OST Energy expands with Paris office




Richard Heap

OST Energy expands with Paris office

The appearance of French energy minister Ségolène Royal at the EWEA annual event in Paris yesterday was meant to tell us one thing: France is serious about wind energy.

It is a message that the French government has been making repeatedly over the last six months. In June, it adopted a law saying 40% of France’s electricity demand should come from renewables by 2030; and its offshore wind plans have been gaining momentum. This is all ahead of the United Nations climate talks that are due to start in Paris in two weeks’ time.

This support for wind has encouraged overseas firms to expand into France. One of these is OST Energy, the UK-headquartered renewables technical consultancy that has a presence on six continents with main offices in cities including Ann Arbor, Cape Town, Milan, New Delhi and Sydney—as well as its headquarters in Brighton in the UK.

And, this week, it is adding a Paris office to that global roster.

Richard Abrams, director at OST Energy, says the firm is looking to set up a four-person office to leverage existing work but exploit the stability of the French wind market. He is confident that the French government backing for renewables, for wind in particular, will provide OST with solid future growth. 

And, despite the French reputation for bureaucracy, he says he expects it to be easier than the UK. It takes up to five years to develop a wind farm in France, compared to up to eight in the UK.

Abrams adds that he would not need to see huge growth in the French market to make the new office a profitable venture: “For OST, things tend to grow organically. We don’t necessarily look to the booming markets, but it does look like, in France, things are going to be buoyant and steady for both wind and solar combined."

OST provides services including due diligence, asset management and feasibility studies for wind and solar projects from 250kW to GW-scale. Its clients include Aviva Investors, NORD/LB and Santander, and it has wider links through its solar experience to the finance community. 

The opening of the Paris office, headed up by Fabrice Aymat, is part of an OST expansion drive that further stepped up last month when OST was bought by engineering consultancy Edif ERA, which is part of the Edif Group. 

The acquisition enables Edif to consolidate in the renewables sector, and gives OST a wider offering including Edif’s foundation of electrical expertise. The Edif Group employs over 1,000 staff worldwide, compared to OST’s 130. The deal brings together two suites of complementary engineering consultancy services, and allows both companies to further strengthen their presence on the international markets.

Aymat says he sees being part of Edif as a way to enable the company to expand in north and west Africa, led by a French-speaking team; and also into the offshore wind sector, where Edif has experience working on the electrical side of projects. 

But, for now, OST's eyes are on Paris. Just as the world's have been in the last week, and will be again when the UN talks start.

This piece has been sponsored by OST Energy.