“Renewable energy and fossil fuels do co-exist in the short term” – Peter van Kerckhoven Nedbank CIB

Bronwyn Nielsen caught up virtually with Peter van Kerckhoven, co-head of Debt Finance at Nedbank Corporate and Investment Bank, at WEF 2023 in Davos. Van Kerckhoven expressed relief that, even with the abundance of crises the world is currently facing, climate change and sustainability are still at the top of the agenda.

Sustainability still top of mind at WEF despite post Russo-Ukrainian War 

It is fascinating to hear sustainability and climate are still top of mind at the World Economic Forum. As you would have heard, the world is facing numerous crises driven by post-pandemic world supply chains that have been disrupted and the war in Ukraine. Many wondered whether or not sustainability and climate would take a back seat in these discussions. While Europe is facing an energy crisis brought on by the war, the belief is that concerns around climate are a thing of the past. There is almost a view that renewable energy and fossil fuels cannot coexist. The truth is that they do coexist in the short term. Europe has to respond to the energy crisis. They will start up some coal-fired power stations, but at the same time, they are accelerating their investment in renewables. We are also seeing a lot of efforts and financing into the development of green hydrogen, which will, in essence, take the place of gas in providing energy to Europe. So, this crisis has accelerated all of that. It is exciting that these commitments are still in place. John Kerry, the US climate envoy, has made it clear the US will stick to the one and half degrees, so it is all very encouraging.  

Nedbank’s solutions to solving the energy crisis

It is interesting that the energy crisis in Europe is brought about by not having energy independence. Ironically, we have had energy independence in that we have our own energy supply, thermal coal. The issue is that our old generation and new generation are largely failing. It shows you the complexities of running an energy system with those technologies. The solution to Europe’s and our problems is renewable energy and the technologies we now have to provide a more decentralised, more scalable supply of power. Nedbank has been supporting renewable energy for a long time. We have put a lot of effort into developing our financing expertise in that space, and we’ve seen a lot of innovations around how energy is financed and how contracting works. That is really the answer to our energy crisis. It is not a short-term solution. It takes a while to get those electrons onto the grid but we need to start doing that. Last year, we were part of some groundbreaking projects that are now being developed.  

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