Q & A with Jérôme Le Page - Energy Traders Europe Board Member

Traders Talking

Traders Talking - Q & A with Jérôme Le Page - Energy Traders Europe Board Member ImageTraders Talking - Q & A with Jérôme Le Page - Energy Traders Europe Board Member Image
What sparked your interest in pursuing a career with Energy Traders Europe?

I was working in sustainable finance and heading a utilities team there. I realised then how European – even global – the energy system is. But I wanted to understand how that played out in reality – how could you possibly produce electricity in Spain and consume it in Finland? That's how I discovered energy trading.

What aspects of energy trading particularly appeal to you?

The idea that we're stronger together. We can strive all we want for security of supply or decarbonisation at country level, we'll never be as efficient as doing it at a wider scale. One of the things that underpins this ability to link producers and consumers at opposite corners of the continent is electricity transmission capacity. So it's pretty geeky but I have a soft spot for transmission capacity calculation methodologies.

What surprised you when you entered energy trading?

How incessant it is, almost until the moment you switch on the light! Before working with Energy Traders Europe, I imagined that energy trading was almost exclusively based on long-term contracts. That’s probably because you often hear on the radio that “country X has secured gas supply from country Y for the next 10 years”. I couldn’t ‘conceive that energy continued to be traded and optimised until a few hours, even a few seconds before delivery.

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise most people who know you.

I have been a paraglide pilot since I was 16.

If you could be whisked away tomorrow to your dream holiday destination, where would it be and why?

Back to the island where my family roots are, off the coast of Brittany. It's a unique place to feel the elements and connect to nature. Call me a masochist but my favourite season there is winter: incessant storms, the wind blowing in your face, the wild ocean... and the most dramatic sunsets as a reward!

© Mathieu Rivrin

What role do you envision energy traders playing in driving the transition to a more sustainable energy future?

If we're honest, fighting climate change may not be energy traders' primary objective. But they are unbeatable at doing things in the most cost-efficient manner. I see traders as the oil in the cogs of the energy system: they are the ones providing the best possible conditions to meet the decarbonisation targets set at political level.

If you could have dinner with one historical figure, who would it be? What about someone who is alive today? 

James Baldwin, an American writer and civil rights activist. What he wrote in the 50s and 60s, especially about class divide, still resonates strongly in today’s society. I would love to spend dinner talking literature, and then heading out to a demonstration together.
Laurence Tubiana, a French economist and diplomat who was the architect of the Paris Agreement at COP21. Definitely an inspiring personality who keeps her ideals close to her heart while making the impossible happen. And I’m sure she could share some juicy gossip about world leaders!

What’s your favourite movie?

Thelma and Louise, by Ridley Scott. The best road movie I know, a story of liberation, mistakes, and everything you can experience along the way. With breath-taking scenery and awesome 90s music. I just wonder whether using a new AI-filled e-vehicle could change the end of the movie if it was shot today... (medium spoiler alert :-) )

As a board member, what key responsibilities do you hold to effectively contribute to the association's success?

As a Board Member and also Chair of our Electricity Committee, I primarily serve as a link between our organisation's Board Members and our Secretariat. I'm also the contact point in the Board for Diversity and Inclusion, as well as for our grants distribution to students active in the energy field.

What do you bring to the Board?

I provide first-hand expertise on the practical and political feasibility of the advocacy ideas discussed during our Board meetings. And I am an attentive ear to the wishes and worries of our Members. Last but definitely not least, I carry the voice of our full Secretariat team, in Brussels and around Europe to our Board.

What principles and ethical considerations guide your approach to Board responsibilities and decision-making?

We don't live in a vacuum, and I think defending the interests of a specific industry cannot work without considering its impact on society. Keeping this in mind, the principles of solidarity, respect, consideration for diverse opinions or experiences are very important to me. I seek to apply them in my work, be it within our team, at the Energy Traders Europe Board, or in our external advocacy activities.

How do you stay abreast of the latest industry trends, developments, and market dynamics to ensure informed decision-making?

Talking with our Members is my most precious source of information. Having discussions with other partners in the industry, reading specialised news, attending events and conferences are also essential in my view. And since my job is to serve as a link between industry and policy makers, I also do that on the political and institutions side.

What are your strategies for effectively managing stress and maintaining a balanced life amidst demanding responsibilities?

I remember saying at the end of 2023 that my greatest achievement of the year was to have remained calm during the energy crisis. Credit to that goes mainly to my team at Energy Traders Europe: good communication, burden sharing, moral support – I believe we're really here for each other, especially when times are tough. And at a personal level, I make sure to listen to my body, to switch off my emails on evenings and weekends, and to leave my computer at home when I take holidays.

What are some of your favourite hobbies or activities to unwind and relax?

A good book to read (...or fall asleep on). A walk in nature. A night at the theatre. And if I'm visiting colleagues in our Berlin office, definitely a club night!

How has the evolving energy landscape, including the transition to renewables and geopolitical tensions, impacted the European energy market?

Both the energy transition and geopolitical tensions bring pronounced price fluctuations in the energy market – everyone knows about the very high prices of 2022, but fewer know about the impressive number of negative-price hours we’re seeing in the power market at the moment. This can be scary for decision makers – and we’ve seen how managing political risk has come back high on the agenda of energy traders. But it is also an opportunity to develop all the flexible assets and services needed to manage the transition: demand-response, storage, power-to-X, etc.

How do you see the future of the European energy market, and what potential challenges and opportunities do you anticipate?

On the electricity side, we have developed tools that help us optimise demand/supply balance at European level, but these optimisation algorithms become increasingly complex. Many of the market reform projects for the next 5/10 years seem like small incremental improvements to already highly sophisticated systems. But at the same time, we’ll need to work on many fundamental, almost basic, projects in the years to come, e.g. the integration of the Western Balkans into the internal energy market, building a hydrogen market from the ground up. So one of our big challenges will be to fully understand the added value of different reform projects – and make sure we put our eggs in the right basket!

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Paris – quite a fun life as a child in the 80s: that was the time when parents would let a 6-year old like me take the metro alone! But I've been living in Brussels for almost 20 years now, and that's the place I call home.

What was your first job?

I was chartering high school students on language-learning trips from France to the UK. That means I spent more nights than I can count in Dover and Calais after missing the last ferry. Believe it or not, they are nice places to discover and spend a bit of time in!

Can you give us a peek into what’s on your bucket list?

Hiking the mountains of Georgia and Armenia. Going down my ever-growing pile of unread books. Learning woodwork and how to build furniture.