The green transformation of businesses and households is key to improving not only the environment but also the lives of all of us. In times of crisis, it turns out that it is extremely important for businesses to be able to adapt quickly to new conditions. Even if it is as energy and resource independent as possible.
And all this must be done with highly qualified experts, which the Schneider Electric team manages to find in Bulgaria. Some of these topics were discussed at the international conference "Green Deal - Innovation, Investment and Fair Transition", organized by Dir.bg and 3E-news. We also asked Radoslav Koshkov, General Manager of Schneider Electric for Bulgaria, Albania, Northern Macedonia and Kosovo, about his views on the green transition.
Mr. Koshkov, your company has been looking at green transformation for years and you are among the leaders in this field. What does your experience show? Is Europe and the world succeeding in being more sustainable and protecting the environment?
At Schneider, we like to look at things optimistically and offer solutions and share practices, rather than drawing gloomy pictures. However, optimism on this topic is not enough. Our recent research shows that only 1.5% of buildings in Europe are carbon neutral, and therefore we believe that there is a need to accelerate the green transition. I would say that the world is still adjusting and preparing. Five years ago, we wanted to think that at that time, many companies would be more active. As for Schneider Electric, we have specific commitments, both globally and locally. In Bulgaria, we have already started a number of projects that will gradually make us carbon neutral by 2030.
The green transition has just begun in the region of Southeast Europe. In the face of so many crises, can we still expect it to be successful and completed on time?
The most important thing about the green transition is that, despite all the more immediate crises, it remains fundamental and must not be left out of focus. As we approach approaches to realities such as pandemics or refugee waves, we must not forget about sustainable development. The best way to do this is for each company to have a program in place that follows. Thus, even if there are months in which direct efforts are directed elsewhere, we have a tool to help us keep up with the plan and continue to follow it. Sometimes an unforeseen situation can also speed up the achievement of goals - for example, as the Covid pandemic did with Digitalisation, or now the increased energy price is likely to accelerate the adoption of more energy efficiency measures.
Where do you see the role of industry in this transition? How can the supply chain problem and the shortage of raw materials be solved according to the business?
Every crisis that humanity has experienced has always led to innovation. We have seen how Covid has accelerated digitalization many times and I believe that the creative potential, combined with the already achieved technological realities, can help us cope with this situation. The role of industry is very important because it is a major consumer not only of raw materials but also of energy. Currently, the industry as such a consumer is looking for options for energy diversification and energy efficiency, the same is happening in production and supply - new plants are being built, production is being balanced geographically, options for different modes of transport are being sought.
What strengths and weaknesses do you see in Bulgaria and the region in terms of readiness for this transformation - energy and industrial?
The first step we need to take in order to move forward is to have a clear idea of where we are now. In business, and in technology, this means one thing - to have a clear, measurable, quantitative picture of the situation. Exactly how much we consume, exactly where we are on each important indicator. This is also basic for the systems we offer on the market and we always tell our customers - first you need the data, then everything else. Many businesses in our country and in the region are still working "by touch". This may be a successful strategy for a limited period of time or it may have worked so far. However, growing and achieving efficient processes and profitable growth are things that can be achieved through informed decisions based on facts and evidence. And here is the main corrective action. Every business needs data on the resources and energy it consumes. This is the first step - from there, optimization and efficiency follow.
On the other hand, I believe that as a human resource in Bulgaria and in the region, contrary to many claims, we have a sufficient quality resource for this transformation - I see it in the young candidates for many of our new open positions, I see it in the participation of local staff in creating "smart green solutions", as well as the main participants in turning our plant in Plovdiv into a "smart factory".
During the international fair in Hanover, Schneider Electric presented its new achievements to support sustainable transition and industrial transformation. Is the goal of the industry being able to adapt in time and be more resilient in times of crisis achievable?
The goal is achievable - it is important to be aware of the issue, it is important to develop a new type of culture and to achieve regulatory support. I will give an example again with our plant in Bulgaria - during the crown crisis in 2020 and 2021 we did not have a single day's stay. Everyone who could work remotely worked like this - we sent equipment from our factory to other Schneider plants and received equipment from us. In both cases, the launch and settings were made remotely, thanks to modern technology. Nowadays, more is technically possible than we only imagined ten years ago. They are the slowest to catch up with human habits - the other variables are there. Therefore, efforts must now focus on working with people and transforming ways of thinking.