Top Ten Highlights of Cleantech France

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France is undoubtedly one of the largest, most influential economies across the globe. As such, they have taken a big approach to become one of the main cleantech sector players. In 2009 alone, cleantech companies throughout France raised over $150 million. The French Parliament is making a number of regulations and guidelines to support the growing cleantech industry.

1) Renewable Energy Exhibition. France is home to the Renewable Energy Exhibition, the largest renewable energy fair in Europe. The exhibition provides operational solutions for renewable energy. Many companies come to exhibit what they offer, including manufacturers, promoters, institutions, associations, and power utilities associated with different renewable energy sectors, including wood energy, biogas, small-scale hydropower, geothermal energy, and wind energy. Many individuals visit it every year, including installers, public contracting authorities, specifies, private contracting authorities, institutions, operators, and power utilities. The 2011 edition took place in Lyon, France, the capital of the Rhone-Alps region. Rhone-Alps is also home to the national cluster of excellence for renewable energy, TENERRDIS.

2) E85. France is becoming one of the big leaders in the biofuel sector. The French Finance Minister announced the new E85 flex-fuel pump that would deliver biofuel that would consist of 15% petrol and 85% ethanol. This technology only adds to the fact that France is currently one of the top countries in the world with the lowest CO2 emissions per capita. With the use of E85 and other biofuel technologies, France hopes to lower their CO2 emissions by 2050, achieve a biofuel incorporation rate, increases the number of petrol stations delivering biofuels.

3) Israel-France Renewable Energy Conference. Two of the top cleantech countries in the world, France and Israel, got together for two days in Tel Aviv to bring together developers and scientists from both countries. Discussions at this conference were based on the future of renewable energy, including concentrated solar power, energy storage, biofuels, and photovoltaics. Conferences commenced on how to increase the production of renewable energy, how to effectively spread it throughout the globe, and how to deal with the current climate change, and how to ween countries off of the reliance on fossil fuels.

4) Wind Power. France, after the United Kingdom and Germany, has the largest resource of wind available. In 2010, the Electricie de France, the primary electricity generator and supplier is planning to increase the capacity of wind energy to 10 GW. To comply with European Directive 200/77/CE, France wants to increase its wind electric energy consumption to more than 20%.

5) Renewable Energy France. To provide renewable energy services and products for English speaking communities throughout France, Renewable Energy France provides a number of products, including solar pool and water heating, solar electricity, and domestic wind turbines. They also assist in building an ECO house. They even assist in looking for land, designing the homes, and finding necessary subsidies and grants to get the project going. Renewable Energy France has years of experience in the design and installation of renewable energy systems.

6) Government Funding. The government, in an effort to keep France’s standing as a top cleantech country, has providing major funding to new renewable energy programs. One of the most recent projects is a 1.35 billion Euro renewable energy investment program. The program is known as “Demonstrateurs Energies Renouvelables et Chimie Verte,” which translates to “renewable energy and green chemistry demonstration.” The funds are targeted to assist emerging clean technologies that have high costs for development. This includes companies involved in solar, water, and geothermal energies, and capture and storage programs for carbon. The money is also going to go into advancing development of biofuel technologies.

7) Indo France Chamber of Commerce. Currently, India and France are moving closer to sign a pact to endorse renewable energy. This pact will increase investment and technology transfer between the two countries in the renewable energy sector. It is a mutual relationship between the two countries. For example, French wind and solar companies are part of a big plan to bump up these renewable energy programs in India, a country that has many innovations and advancements, but needs assistance in moving away from fossil fuels and take a greater leap toward renewable energy.

8 ) Sino-French Laboratory for Sustainable Energy. Starting in 2008, the Sino-French Laboratory for Sustainable Energy was created due to a common concern between China and France about sustainable development and related energy issues. There are four main objectives of these meetings. First is to improve environmental and energy efficiency. Second is to implement different new energy vectors. Third is to increase solar energy production. Fourth is clean implementation of fossil fuel sources. Aside from these yearly meetings, the two countries with visit each other’s laboratories and learn about what advanced the others have made in sustainable development technologies.

9) Ecotech 2012 Plan. The Ecotech 2010 plan is a drive to elevate the total usage of renewable energy sources that can be supported by sustained industrial activity, especially industries involved in wind and photovoltaic power. Piloted by EDF Energies Nouvelles and a number of other small investors, and led by the Ecoindustry Strategic Committee, Ecotech 2012 Plan looks to tackle the many environmental challenges. It has been supported by the French government who have, as well, done their part by encouraging companies and households to use more energy saving equipment and use renewable energy sources. Feed-in tariffs and subsidies provided by the government have created an environment that has resulted in France beating their total solar capacity projections in 2010 of 850 MW and breaking the 1 GW level at year’s end.

10) IFP Energies Nouvelles. One of the largest public-sector industrial innovation, research, and training centers in France is IFP Energies Nouvelles. The goal of this company is to develop, clean, economical, and resourceful sustainable technologies throughout the fields of environment, transport, and energy. IFP Energies Nouvelles offers industries and public players innovative solutions to make the more to energy that is sustainable, economical, and cleaner for the environment. IFP Energies Nouvelles has five strategic priorities. Their first is to create chemical intermediaries, fuels, and energy from renewable sources, produce energy while lowering the environmental footprint, develop transport that is environmentally friendly and fuel efficient, produce fuels that are environmentally friendly, and offer technologies that are environmentally friendly.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. . He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at shawn@watershedcapital.com

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