After much anticipation, the winner of the Roger Léron Award 2022 was announced last night in Brussels.
The evening kicked off with an opening address from FEDARENE President Julije Domac, who reflected on the drastic changes that have occurred in the field of energy. “Energy used to be boring”, he joked, “electricity came from the walls, heat from the radiator, and the rest was not so interesting. But now, every citizen is afraid of how much they are going to pay for energy, wondering if their homes will be warm or not. Today, nobody thinks that energy is a boring concept”. This poignant observation by the President showed just how important energy efficiency has become, and it was in that spirit that the Roger Léron Award 2022 was decided to honour energy efficiency leaders: those who have built their careers working towards the energy transition – even before the “energy transition” was something spoken about.
But, before the winners would be announced, guests of the ceremony were treated to two more keynote speeches. Adela Tesarova, Head of Unit at the European Commission’s DG Energy, reflected on how energy efficiency has become a major policy point in Brussels. She spoke of the new financial instruments and programmes that were supporting the energy transition across Europe, but also highlighted that more can be done: “It is a bit ironic that we still have islands who are dependent on fossil fuels”, she remarked, pointing to the threat of rising seas and the urgent challenge to curb emissions. Nevertheless, it is also important to celebrate success, she said. The Roger Léron Award allows us to see “not only outstanding individuals, but citizens who are pushing others to step up to the challenges ahead”.
And finally, in an invigorating address, Christiane Egger, our Vice-President for Climate Neutrality, reflected on the figure behind the Roger Léron Award. “Tonight we celebrate someone who was the embodiment of energy transition when it was not yet a thing”. But today, Christiane noted, energy efficiency is not only a thing – it is a must: “our survival depends on it.” And yet, this is exactly the right moment for energy agencies to prove their worth, according to the trailblazing Austrian. “It’s a window of opportunity for us at the regional and local level to show what we can do. We are providing useful, scientific information, and we have the skills to deliver. But we also have to change, as agencies. We need to be more proactive, more flexible, and more resilient. It is our moral responsibility. What we have done so far is great, but we must do more”.
And so, the stage was set for the presentation of the finalists of the Roger Léron Award 2022. And the results are…
Reinhard Six began his career as an engineer with IFEU Heidelberg – an early player in the discussion about energy efficiency in Germany – before moving to France and Rhônalpénergie-Environnement, where he was in charge of European affairs and the promotion of co-generation and district heating. He managed more than 40 EU projects, gave technical assistance for local and regional project developments, and established himself as a leader in European energy efficiency policy and implementation. This expertise drove him to join the European Investment Bank where worked until retirement. There, Reinhard’s greatest achievement was establishing and later managing ELENA, an EIB – European Commission joint facility that has delivered a significant increase in local and regional energy efficiency projects. His lifelong commitment to energy efficiency and his impact on local, regional, and European level all see him take home the Roger Léron Award 2022.
Reinhard reflected on how he has always tried to help others make changes on the ground, to help investors and agencies make the right choices, and always to go for renewable energies. He also shared what the award signified to him personally. “I am German but I tried to find opportunities in France, and Roger Léron hired me. Now, I must say I am half French, as my wife is from France and I have lived there for so long. I can say that I truly appreciate the European dimension of our work, and of the FEDARENE network”.
Reinhard takes home the Roger Léron Award trophy, but he also left us with a final message: “Energy efficiency is not just something we can do. We can do it, but we must do it. So let’s do it!”. Glückwunsch, Reinhard!
Lina Gellermark joined the Mälardalen Energy Agency (MEA) in 2005 and today operates as its CEO. Throughout the years, Lina has been a devoted advocate for the energy transition at the Swedish national level. In addition to her leadership of the MEA, her role as Deputy Chairman of the Board of Energikontoren Sverige catalysed the development of inter-organizational systems, structures, and networks throughout the country – an effort that only strengthened the collaborative ties between Sweden and the rest of Europe. Lina continues to pioneer new projects in green energy, lead economic development and inspire social change around her.
Lina Gellermark spoke of what it meant to her, to work towards energy efficiency in Sweden, and to be among a room full of leaders just like her, each pushing toward the European energy transition. She was warmly applauded by the audience in attendance, who recognised her hard work and her commitment throughout her remarkable career. Grattis, Lina!
Anne Girault has been a leading consultant in Paris’ energy sector for over 35 years. Across her committed career, Anne has supported cities’ energy transitions, managed national and international projects (including territorial climate and sustainable development plans), and built up partnerships to build on her work. A particular highlight was her creation of the Paris Climate Agency, which she managed from 2010 to 2019. A decade since its inception, the Agency has become a key player in the energy transition and its model has been recognised internationally, especially in the area of renovating residential buildings.
Remembering her friend Roger Léron, Anne expressed how for her, too, this recognition was special. Her acceptance speech reflected what it meant for her contributions to be honoured alongside a distinguished and brilliant set of 12 nominees from across Europe. The warm response from the audience in attendance testified that while Anne may be retired now, her impact will continue to unfold both in Paris and further afield. Félicitations, Anne!
The Roger Léron Award 2022 celebrated energy efficiency leaders. 12 nominees contended the award, and while only 3 finalists could be selected by the jury, their speeches made clear that each of our 12 nominees was an indeed an energy efficiency leader. Though only one award was presented last night, each member of the audience felt that there were 12 people being celebrated that night. The team at FEDARENE would like to thank all nominees and their friends for contributing to what was a wonderful evening.
We would also like to thank our expert jury, without whose knowledge the winner could never be selected. Thank you to Julije Domac, Christiane Egger, Søren Hermansen, Eleonora Evi, Monica Frassoni, Adrian Joyce, and Marta Morera.
Congratulations to Reinhard Six, our first prize winner of the Roger Léron Award 2022, and to our runners-up Lina Gellermark and Anne Girault.