Which Future for Lorraine, and France?

While I was visiting my family in the Region of Lorraine – North Eastern France – I came across two distinct news illustrating the possible future of the region, and in a way, of the whole country.

The first one is about dirty polluting fossil energy as to Elixir Petroleum, an Australian company, there would be massive quantities of shale oil and gas in Lorraine’s soil. To the volumetric estimates, there would be no less than 164.7 billion barrels of shale oil and 649.7 trillion cubic feet of shale gas. Large amounts of more traditional oil and gas has been found as well.

This announcement took place as France has been the first country to ban fracking. As the local newspapers note, this announcement is little credible and is merely done to keep the exploration permits as the law is changing.

The enormous quantities found reminded me that US geologist recently estimated there is FIVE times less shale oil and gas in the American soil as it was previously stated by companies. I have no doubt that the situation in Lorraine will be the same if not worse.

I agree that local populations could benefit from jobs as the worst economic crises of our time is striking. But the countryside and its various cultures and fruits is a wonder we have to keep. Whoever ate mirabelles knows what I am referring to.

Now let’s have a look at something that is already taking place, and which holds a better future: cleantech!

A former military air base near Toul (in the Département of Moselle) will be cleaned up and 400 hectares of solar panels will be installed. The total capacity will be of 143 MW, enough for 62,000 people.

This project is a direct consequence of the new legal background enacted by the French government earlier this summer. See my post for more : France Issues New Regulations for Large Solar PV Installations

A few green jobs will also be created: 150 for the construction and an additional 15 to maintain the plant.

The plant will bring 1.3 million euros per year in revenue to the Région, the Département and the three cities where the air force base is located.

EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN), a subsidiary of the national utilities Electricité De France may work with First Solar, which could provide the solar panels for the plant.

The company plans to invest no less than 434 million euros in the next ten years for this plant alone.

Trees will be planted in the remaining parts of the old air base and a little museum dedicated to renewable energies will be created as local authorities are willing to transform this as  a touristic attraction.

France is moving forward on cleantech. Of course, there has been setbacks, but we can globally be satisfied. Let us hope it will continue doing so whoever will be elected as President in the Presidential elections next year.

Photo: Julien Hillairet, Flickr

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