France

Highlights in 2020
Highlights in 2020

High impact innovation activity triggered by MI

The involvement of France in IC2 as co-lead has had a significant impact for the launching of support activities in the field of off-grid energy access. It enabled or at least accelerated the launch of the call for projects completed in 2018, making possible the funding of 9 projects targeting energy innovation on the African continent. It allows also to develop a tight cooperation between France and India on off-grid access to energy innovation programs sharing objectives and projects accomplishments.

The international dimension of MI gives strong emphasis to all the activities performed under its umbrella. As an example, the calls for projects launched in the frame of IC2 obtained international visibility and the project nominees could have access to a worldwide audience (pitch at MI-3, presentation of the projects at the IC2 international workshops…).

Update on clean energy innovation policies and strategies

To meet the energy transition challenges the world is facing, France has made a firm political commitment, through the implementation of a range of key legislative, regulatory and strategic tools, both to guiding technological and societal choices and to supporting the research and development (R&D) effort necessary to ensure a continuous improvement in existing pathways and the emergence of new pathways.

The national regulatory framework

The Law on Energy Transition for Green Growth

The aim of the Law on Energy Transition for Green Growth (LTECV) adopted in 2015 is to enable France to contribute more effectively to preventing climate disruption and to protecting the environment, and to strengthen the country’s energy independence while offering French companies and citizens access to energy at a competitive cost. The LTECV is also intended to promote sustainable economic growth and the creation of sustainable jobs that cannot be relocated.

The LTECV therefore constitutes the foundation on which the policy of innovation for ecological and energy transition can be built. The law establishes the National Energy Research Strategy (SNRE), setting the major levers in terms of RD&D to fulfill the priorities of the government in terms of energy and green-house gas emissions, defined by:

  • The National Low-Carbon Strategy (SNBC), which describes the roadmap to 2050 for France for the implementation of its climate change mitigation policy, and the measures that make it possible to achieve carbon neutrality, including in innovation.
  • The Multiannual Energy Plan (MEP) to 2028, which sets the priorities for action by the public powers in relation to energy in order to ensure a successful transition towards a more effective and more simple energy system that is more diversified and therefore more resilient, with a focus on innovation.

The Law on Energy and Climate

The Law on Energy and Climate (LEC), promulgated on 9 November 2019, enshrines the concept of ecological and climatic emergency in the law and carbon neutrality for France by 2050 with a range of measures.

The transition to a low-carbon economy involves a stepping-up of energy-related research and innovation measures aimed at developing the technologies and behaviours that will promote reductions in missions, while ensuring that France can compete on future markets for low-carbon goods and services.

In other respect, the law foresees the possibility of launching specific calls for projects for innovative energy production facilities. Experimentation contracts can be defined on a case-by-case basis.

Response to the Covid 19 crisis – setting a recovery plan for the economic, social and ecological overhaul of the country

With the desire to amplify the efforts implemented with the support plan, The French Prime Minister presented on September 3, 2020 the plan “France Relance”, a roadmap for the economic, social and ecological recovery of the country. The allocated resources are substantial, €100 billion, of which 40% are funded by the European Union, turned towards:

  • The ecological transition;
  • An increased competitiveness of the French economy;
  • A stronger social and territorial cohesion.

To achieve these objectives, the new Program of Investments for the Future (PIA 4), consisting in the continuation of a major national program launched in 2010 to support innovation (€57 billion invested from 2010 to 2020 to enhance innovation in all sectors), will mobilize €11 billion to support the recovery plan, along 4 axis:

  • The development of innovations and green technologies (€3.4 Bn);
  • Economic resilience and sovereignty (€2.6 Bn);
  • Support higher education, research and innovation ecosystems (€2.55 Bn);
  • Support innovative companies at each stage of their development (€1.95 Bn).

Other resources of the Recovery Plan will support the deployment of (often) innovative energy transition solutions in different economic sectors. For instance the Recovery Plan allocates 1,2 G€ to projects aiming at decarbonizing industry, and also supports the emergence of hydrogen local ecosystems or the production of decarbonized hydrogen (support to investment and operating expenses), in the framework of a National Hydrogen Strategy adopted in September 2020 (7 G€ of public support until 2030, among which 2,3 G€ brought by the Recovery Plan).

The Citizen’s Convention on Climate

An unprecedented democratic exercise was carried out to give citizens a voice to accelerate the fight against climate change. 150 citizens chosen randomly worked for 9 months and made 149 measures that will allow to reach the targets in terms of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, keeping in sight the spirit of social justice, indispensable to ensure social acceptance of change. On the basis of this proposal, a bill is currently discussed in the Parliament.

Major innovation initiatives and programmes in 2020/21

The Programme of Investments for the Future (PIA)

Alongside the funding of public research bodies, the Government supports R&D actions in the energy sphere implemented by ADEME, BPI France, the Caisse des Depôts et Consignations (CDC), and by the ANR (energy transition institutions, generic calls for projects).

Between 2010 and 2017, ADEME implemented two actions for the first two sections of the PIA: “energy and ecological transition demonstrators” and “vehicles and transport of the future”, thus covering numerous themes divided among four broad aspects:

  • Production of renewable energies, energy storage and smart electricity networks;
  • Energy efficiency in buildings, industry and agriculture and bio-based chemistry;
  • Circular economy and waste;
  • Transport (including all its components) and mobility.

Various funding tools were provided, such as calls for projects for demonstrators, SME initiatives and equity interventions, enabling the funding, through 85 calls for projects, of 745 projects for a total grant amount of €2.5 billion (total project budget: €7.22 billion).

Continuing on from PIA 1&2, ADEME has implemented several actions as part of the third section of the PIA (commenced in late 2017), for a total amount of €1 billion: demonstration actions with €400 million in equity and €300 million in State aid (the CDC is also an operator, with separate loans for the regional component), Innovation competition dedicated to SMEs, with €150 million in State aid, Support for ‘innovation ecosystems’ in the area of sustainable mobility, with €150 million in State aid.

In parallel the PIA enabled the Public Investment Bank (Bpifrance) to finance companies in the field of sustainable development and energy transition. Bpifrance finances companies regardless of their size, from start-ups to SMEs or mid-caps, with financial solutions both during the feasibility study stage of innovation projects and during their implementation and launch in France or abroad. The public bank also invests in companies’ equity with high grow potential via innovation capital or seed capital, with the aim to create a ripple effect with regards to private funding.

Funding innovation to accelerate the pace of the energy transition is a top priority of the French government for the period 2020-2030

The Government is launching for the period 2021-2025, its 4th strand of the Programme of Investments for the Future (PIA4), endowed with €20 billions for innovation. It will combine two intervention approaches aimed at accelerating innovation in all sectors, while simplifying the readability of intervention and financing tools: (i) strategic and priority investments (aims to finance exceptional investments that meet the challenges of transition of our economy and our society), (ii) long-term financing for higher education, research and innovation (amplify the efficiency of higher education and research ecosystems created by previous programmes and support innovative companies).

The strategic and priority investments will target high potential technology innovation sectors and will be derived in terms of so-called “Acceleration strategies” defining the key stages of development according to the maturity of the innovations, from their design to their deployment. All levers will be taken into account (funding, standardisation, research, education…)

“Zero-carbon Hydrogen” is the first validated strategy in the energy field. €7 billion will be invested, including €2 billion by 2022, in order to provide additional responses to the intermittence of renewable energies and to make France a major player worldwide in the field of carbon-free hydrogen. Several other strategies related to the energy field are currently in progress: decarbonisation of industry, bio-sourced products and bio-fuels, circular economy, advanced technologies for energy systems, batteries, digitization and decarbonisation of mobility.

Private sector engagement in 2020/21

The projects supported by the PIA in the field of the energy transition as well as innovative transportation involve the private sector in a co-investment spirit. This philosophy will remain at the heart of the investment strategy of the fourth strand of the PIA starting in 2021.

In other respect, ADEME Investissement, a public equity financing tool 100% owned by the State and chaired by ADEME was created in 2019. The company operates alongside private investors, for innovative infrastructure projects serving the Energy and Environmental Transition. Ademe Investissement supports French innovations both in France and abroad, during their construction and operating phases. The company invests according to the same rules as a private investor. The investments tackle projects that are part of the Energy and Ecological Transition: Energy (production, development, storage of renewable energy, renewable heat, wind, wind, solar, marine energy, geothermal, cogeneration, industrial hydrogen, energy efficiency, smart electricity networks etc.), Sustainable mobility (road, rail, river and maritime transport, electromobility, hydrogen mobility, gas mobility, logistics) – Circular economy and renewable gas (treatment and recovery of waste, methanisation and renewable gas, pyrogasification, Power-to-gas) – Fight against greenhouse gases  (CCUS) – Environment and biodiversity (green chemistry, eco-efficiency in the building, industry, agriculture, industrial ecology, agroecology, biodiversity protection). Its investment envelope amounts 400 M€.

Major activities in support of the Innovation Challenges in 2020/21

France participates to the 8 innovation challenges, all considered very relevant to contribute to accelerate the deployment of innovative low-carbon solutions to tackle the energy transition. Among all the activities performed may be highlighted several specific actions. Namely:

IC2: Among the 8 Challenges identified by Mission Innovation, the Challenge on “innovation for off-grid electricity access from renewable” is co-leaded by France and India.

  • Two calls for proposals (CFP) on innovative solutions for off-grid access to energy were launched by France and India respectively, enabling the selection of round 10 projects in each country for a global budget beyond 10 M€. The selected projects address various innovative technologies (hybrid electricity production, solar, river stream generator), different uses of electricity enhancing economic development (irrigation, agriculture, desalination, mobility) and electricity payment issues (pay as you go, leasing…).
  • This experience is repeated in France in 2020 with an additional call for project, within the frame of a collaboration between the ADEME and the French Development Agency (AFD).
  • Two international workshops were held in Paris and New-Delhi (2017 and 2019 respectively). These events gave the opportunity to gather stakeholders, government representatives, entrepreneurs and researchers and exchange on projects related to innovation for off-grid energy access.

IC3: France joined the CCUS innovation challenge from its foundation in 2016. This topic is addressed by the French low-carbon national strategy as one of the levers to reach the goal of neutrality carbon, notably by coupling CCUS with biomass combustion. Hence, France:

  • Pursues its participation to the ERANET ACT CCUS (European funding programme), which aims at supporting projects dealing with the priorities set by this innovation challenge;
  • Took part in June 2019 in Trondheim, Norway at the MIIC3 workshop, chairing the sessions dealing with storage and utilization. Aim of the workshop was notably to follow up on the implementation of the priority research directions established during the 2017 CCUS Experts Workshop (Houston, US);
  • Contributed in 2019 to the definition of the action plan of the challenge

IC8: France joined the hydrogen innovation challenge from is foundation in 2018, this topic being considered as a major lever of the energy transition.

Other Mission Innovation related activity in 2020/21

France participates from the beginning to the champions programme. In 2019, an inspiring project “Energy observer” consisting in the designing and demonstrating the feasibility of operating an autonomous ship powered with hydrogen produced on board thanks to renewable energies. In 2020, Ondine Suavet, general director and co-founder of “My Light Systems”, was awarded. This successful company promotes smart solar self-consumption solutions for households and companies.

Public sector RD&D investment

New Collaborations

 

  • Collaborator: EU
    • Name of collaboration
      • ERANet Geothermica
    • Brief Description
      • Combination of 17 geothermal energy research and innovation programme owners and managers from 14 countries and their regions.
    • Sectors
      • Public-Private
    • Type of collaboration
      • Demonstration and technology development projects to accelerate geothermal energy deployment
    • Duration
      • 2nd call is currently in preparation
    • Additional information

 

  • Collaborator: EU
    • Name of collaboration
      • ERANet Smart Energy Systems
    • Brief Description
      • The initiative deals with the key challenges and topics of the future energy system:
        • Smart Power Grids
        • Integrated Regional Energy Systems
        • Flexible Heating and Cooling Systems
        • Smart Services
      • Sectors
        • Public-Private
      • Type of collaboration
        • A Transnational Joint Programming Platform to Initiate Co-Creation and Promote Energy System Innovation
      • Additional information

 

  • Collaborator: EU, Norway, UK, US, Switzerland, Canada, Turkey
    • Name of collaboration
      • ERANET ACT (Accelerated CCUS Technologies)
    • Brief Description
      • The project aims to develop and implement the techniques and conditions for the deployment of CO2 capture, transport and storage. The use of CO2 is also part of the perimeter. This project follows the main directions of MI’s IC3.
    • Sectors
      • Public-Private
    • Type of collaboration
      • Demonstration and technology development projects to accelerate CCUS deployment
    • Duration
      • 2019 2nd call and 2020 third call is currently in preparation
    • Funding amount
      • 2019 Call – 20 M€
    • Additional information

 

  • Collaborator: EU, Israel, Turkey, Russia, Taiwan, Quebec, South Africa
    • Name of collaboration
      • M ERA. Net
    • Brief Description
      • Materials sciences and Batteries: Modeling for materials engineering and processing, Innovative surfaces, coatings and interfaces, High performance composites, Functional materials, New strategies for advanced material-based technologies in health applications, Materials for Additive Manufacturing Fuel cells
    • Sectors
      • Public-Private
    • Type of collaboration
      • Research TRL 2 -4
    • Duration
      • 2020, 2nd call
      • 2021 available 3rd call
    • Funding amount
      • 2019 Call – 27 M€
      • 2020 Call – 21 M€
      • 2021 Call -15 M€, with 5 M€ for batteries
    • Additional information

 

  • Collaborator: EU, Turkey, Chile, Quebec, South Africa
    • Name of collaboration
      • Eramin 2
    • Brief Description
      • Raw Materials for Batteries: Supply of raw materials from exploration and mining (also for batteries, namely Li), Design, Processing, Production and Remanufacturing, Recycling and Re-use of End-of-life products (as well batteries), Cross-cutting topics
    • Sectors
      • Public-Private
    • Type of collaboration
      • Research and development
    • Duration
      • 2019 Call
      • 2021 Eramin 3 available
    • Funding amount
      • 2019 Call – 10 M€
    • Additional information