Roger Léron Award 2018 Finalist
Illustration : Gérard Savatier
Gérard Savatier is an inspiring pioneer and was, in June 1981, among the creators of ASDER, the Savoy association for the development of renewable energies. Partially financed by the AFME (French national agency for energy efficiency) and the Department of Savoy, ASDER was amongst the first members of CLER (the national network for renewable energy sources). He chaired the presidency of this national network from 1986 to 1990 and from 2002 to 2008. In 2018, with a team of 25 employees, ASDER is a training centre accredited by the State, and handles local activities very similar to those of a local energy agency. He contributed to the development of communications for the local communities, and the general public at the local, regional, national, and European level. His passionate description of the energy challenges the humanity would have to face in the 21st century, and his continuous dedication to the energy transition has been inspiring many future careers.
Gérard Savatier was in June 1981 among the creators of ASDER, the Savoy’ association for the development of renewable energies; and became one of the first employees in 1982 with the financial support of the new born AFME (French national agency for energy efficiency) and the Department of Savoy, and soon its director. ASDER launched his training in renewable energy sources in 1989 with the support of Rhône-Alpes Region and was the only one in France until 1995. In 1984 ASDER started its advisory service on renewables for citizens. ASDER was also amongst the first members of CLER (the national network for renewable energy sources created in 1984 and hosted by Rhonalpenergie Environnement, the first regional energy agency in France) which still one of the main networks about energy transition in France. Gérard Savatier chaired the presidency of this national network from 1986 to 1990 and from 2002 to 2008. This national network had a key role sharing information among local organisations and organising advocacy during the collapse of oil prices in 1986, and the linked strong reduction of public credits on energy efficiency. In 1988 the network made its first study tour in Austria and was a founder member of INFORSE a bit later. In 1998, ASDER gets the support of ADEME for its energy information centres; its charter about energy information was taken as a model for the national one. The service was promoted by CLER and the ADEME spread it at the national level to get a full cover of the country by local and departmental energy advice centres, with 200 offices in 2000. Many of them were hosted by the newly born local energy agencies. ASDER, with other citizens driven energy associations, clearly paved the way for our local energy agencies, some of those associations recently evolved into local energy agencies. At the departmental level, ASDER became one recognized specialist of the thermal solar energy and involved many of the local authorities and the Department so well that it became the national champion in terms of installations. In 2018, ASDER has a team of 25 employees and still has two main activities: a training centre, whose diploma has been accredited by the State, and local activities very similar to those of a local energy agency.
As Anne Rialhe explains in a letter of support: “Gérard was a pioneer. All have to be build, the engineers have to be trained, to work not only as an engineer, producing the right calculations and drawings but also to inform, raise awareness and support people and project. Two main targets were selected: the local communities, and the general public. For both, tools were designed, tested, improved. Relationship with mayors and other elected representatives was also an important part of Gérard’s work, who worked with the different political parties, pushing them into energy challenges. Gérard was also looking for funds, at the local level, at the regional and national level, and at the European level. Gérard was a pioneer and ASDER was his laboratory, with a team diverse as the energy challenges are, with an imaginative and producing team, a lively team, and this is still the case”.
Gérard made some of the greatest contributions to energy training in France, as Anne Rialhe explains in her letter of support: ” In parallel, training sessions to build solar equipment were offered and 6 years later the beginning of ASDER, a training and learning center was opened, to teach all the ones who want to learn. And writing “all the ones” is true. In the French university system, dominated by “Grandes écoles”, the training and learning center in ASDER is really a second opportunity that any French can join: the same session is mixing unemployed people, engineers who want to change job, masons, some have several years of experiment, some have no diploma, which is not the question, the question is the project. In front of these students, there are now 85 “teachers”, all working on energy efficiency challenges. Considering the education background, ASDER is giving complementary sessions, very often for maths! Until now, ASDER has to teach 1,200 people, with the title of “Chargé de projet”, at the end of the session, 90% have a job in the sector they were looking for. Now, the training and learning center of ASDER is well-known, with a title recognized by the French state (the diploma is one of the RNCP diplomae) and different labels (charte de qualité Format’eree, charte accueil handicap…). “
ASDER was also amongst the first members of CLER the national network for renewable energies, which is still one of the main networks about energy transition in France, created in 1984 and hosted by Rhonalpenergie Environnement, the first regional energy agency in France. Gérard Savatier chaired the presidency of this national network from 1986 to 1990 and from 2002 to 2008. This national network had a key role to share information among local organisations and organise advocacy during oil prices collapse in 1986, and the linked strong reduction of public credits on energy efficiency. In 1988 the network made its first study tour in Austria and was a founding member of INFORSE a bit later.
As Sylvain Godinot says in his letter of support: “I first met Gérard Savatier in 1999, when I was a student engineer in the city of Chambéry in the Rhône-Alpes region. Gérard was a lecturer in this training. I was astonished by his passionate description of the energy challenges the humanity would have to face in the 21st century, and he certainly is at the origin of my career in energy and climate change issues since then. I’m starting by this personal example because I know that Gérard has been involving hundreds of professionals in the energy transition during his career, in particular, because of his ability to reach the heart of his interlocutors”.