CGN European Energy Company has now grown into the fifth largest clean energy operator in France. It’s an astonishing feat for the subsidiary of China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), which was established in Paris in 2014 for wind power development.
Olivier Texier, director of the operation and maintenance department, discussed the secret behind the success of the China-funded enterprise in going global during his interview with a people.cn reporter.
A typical French engineer, Texier graduated from an engineering school and then engaged in the wind power industry for 11 years. He applied for the job at the establishment of the CGN European Energy Company and has spent four years there.
Texier recalled that the old site of the company was humble at first. This didn’t dampen his interest and passion, as he saw the opportunities and board prospects from it.
As a China-funded enterprise, CGN European Energy Company is different from local enterprises in management, administration, and atmosphere. However, Texier got used to the new environment quickly. He noted that the company is small compared to the scale of CGN in China. CGN’s wind power projects in Europe are also small-scaled, which is why it is essential to balance the demands of headquarters and the European market.
There are also difference in technical management between China and France, in which Chinese expatriates serve as an important bridge to balance the operation of the overseas subsidiary and the development strategy of the whole group. As far as Texier is concerned, the best way for a foreigner to work in a Chinese-funded enterprise is to focus on their expertise and complement the Chinese staff.
Texier now takes charge of the operation and maintenance department, a core division of the company. He was one of the first five foreign employees among 25 staff members when the company was established.
Over the past four years, Texier has witnessed the number of employees growing to 120 with the company’s expansion in Europe. He pointed out that CGN European Energy Company was just an owner of wind farms at first, and then evolved into a technical developer before now becoming capable of building wind farms independently.
Currently, the operation and maintenance department has more than 30 people from all over the world, including Ireland, Belgium, Colombia, Scotland, Romania, and Australia. It has become the company's most internationalized team.
Unlike many wind power projects aimed solely at investment, which often do not have a professional technical team, CGN European Energy Company has the technical strength to become an independent and competitive wind operator in the market, Texier said.
He also noted that the company had become one of the most renowned in Europe's wind power industry, but that there was still a gap between it and local wind power operators for them to still close. In such a rapidly growing company, Texier is unable to get off work on time and the technical team is often on business trips.
Since its establishment, the company has acquired nearly 1.6 gigawatts of wind power and solar power assets in Britain, France, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Sweden through mergers, acquisitions, and independent development. In July 2018, it signed the equity transfer agreement with Macquarie Group and General Electric Company to acquire 75 percent stake of the Swedish North Pole wind power project, the largest single onshore wind farm in Europe.
Located in Pitea, the project will install 179 GE wind turbines with an installed capacity of 3.63 MWe per unit by the end of 2019, which will satisfy the electricity demands of 400,000 households and reduce carbon dioxide emission by 750,000 tons annually.