Highlights in 2019
Highlights in 2019


High impact innovation activity triggered by MI

The involvement of France in IC2 as co-lead has had a significant impact on 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 close 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 face climate change challenges and be collectively able to limit global warming under 2°C, innovation will be key. It will enable us to act simultaneously towards three major goals: reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, economic development and job creation, and energy security. These goals are at the heart of French energy transition for green growth act, which was passed in August 2015, a few months before COP 21 and the Paris Agreement.

At the end of 2019, the Energy and Climate Bill was adopted. The objective of the text is to enshrine in law the ecological and climatic emergency and the objective of carbon neutrality in 2050. In other words, France commits itself to achieving zero net emissions by 2050 which implies not emitting more greenhouse gases than we can absorb, thanks in particular to our forests.

As a follow-up to those political cornerstones which the green growth act and the climate plan represent, France is about to publish its multi-annual energy plan (MEP), that covers all aspects of energy policy and all forms of energy. The MEP sets out two fundamental priorities: reducing energy consumption, particularly fossil fuel consumption, and developing renewable energy sources. These will be the central tenets of our energy system as it evolves to meet the demands of the low-carbon economy.

In the same time frame, France published its National Low-Carbon Strategy (SNBC), which defines the trajectory to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the national level, and orchestrates the implementation of the transition towards a low-carbon economy. This strategy defines over different periods of time (2019-2023, 2024-2028) the upper limits for greenhouse gas emissions that should not be exceeded on average at the national level (carbon budget) and sets targets by sectors of activity.

France supports innovative R&D and demonstrators. In particular in 2019, 3 call for projects were launched to identify demonstrators; and these calls for projects were pursued by 2020.

Specific works were also pursued, such as hydrogen. Green hydrogen has a key role to play in the energy transition. Today, it is seen as one of the main vectors for limiting CO2 emissions in transport and industry. The development of hydrogen technologies has a double challenge: economic in that they offer the opportunity to create an industrial sector and ecosystem; and environmental through the solutions they offer for decarbonising industry and transport and improving air quality.  After initial actions undertaken in 2018, the support program for the Hydrogen sector in preparation aims to initiate an ambitious territorial dynamic and to allow the French ecosystem (industrialists, communities, research laboratories, etc.) to be more structured, in order to position in the future markets of hydrogen production and distribution, both for industry and mobility, in France and for export. In this context, more than €90 million were allocated by the French Government in 2019 to innovative projects focusing on the decarbonization of industrial uses of hydrogen and hydrogen mobility and call for proposals to identify key projects was launched.

Major innovation initiatives in 2019/20

Regarding the actual financing of clean energy innovation projects, a new round of the French programme of investments for the future (PIA) was launched by the end of 2016, with a total amount of funding of €10 billion over 2017-2025. Around two thirds of this sum is dedicated to the ecology and energy transition in general, including clean energy innovation in particular.

In this framework, the different actions operated by the French environment & energy management agency (ADEME) supported since 2010, more than 750 projects for a total amount of aid of round €2.5 billion (budget overall projects: round €7.5 billion). The targeted sectors were energy transition, transportation for the future, circular economy, eco-efficient buildings, industry and agriculture.

The third strand of the PIA, launched in 2018, has confirmed to the ADEME an envelope amounting €1 billion for the energy transition. Among which, namely:

  • €300 million State aids (grants and repayable advances) for the action demonstrators of the energy and ecological transition.
  • €400 million in equity for innovative infrastructure investments of the ” First Of A Kind” commercial type.
  • €150 million for the so-called Innovation Contest, a call for projects dedicated to SMEs and start-ups.
  • €150 million for innovative projects in the field of transportation and mobility to accelerate innovation from public labs to the market.

In addition, ADEME launched in 2019 year two calls for projects to enhance hydrogen innovation and its scale up, targeting two sectors, hydrogen transportation and mobility and industrial processes for a total funding of more than €90 million.

In parallel, the PIA enabled the setting-up of the Energy transition institutes (ITE), multi-disciplinary platforms addressing topics focussed on the energetic transition. They bring together the know-how of the industry and the academic world and are based on a public-private co-investing partnership. Round ten ITE’s were recognized, covering various sectors (renewable marine energy, solar energy, geothermal energy, smart electric grids, energy efficiency, sustainable buildings, decarbonised vehicles and innovative mobility). The whole programme is provided with a budget envelope amounting circa €450 million, financing up to 50% of the activities of the institutes.

Private sector engagement in 2019/20

In the frame of the PIA the French environment & energy management agency (ADEME) supported since 2010, 745 projects for a total amount of aid of €2.5 billion, the private sector co-investing €5 billion. In 2019, this dynamic continued with the selection of more than 20 demonstration projects in the field of the ecological and energy transition as well as innovative transportation. These projects received €100 million of public funds on a total amount of €170 million. These investments highlight the will of France to accelerate the energy transition thanks to a close cooperation between the private and the public sectors.

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 is €400 million.

Major activities in support of the Innovation Challenges in 2019/20

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-led 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 million. 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 CFP, 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 ERA-NET 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 MI IC3 workshop, chairing the sessions dealing with storage and utilization. The 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.

  • France actively participates to the events organized by the challenge (workshops in Berlin – 2018 and Antwerp – 2019).
  • Among others, France is looking forward to contribute to the actions which will performed in the frame of the “Hydrogen valleys” initiative launched by the EC. The Zero Emission Valley (Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Region) is proposed to participate to the international cluster of hydrogen valleys.

Other Mission Innovation related activity in 2019/20

France participates from the beginning in 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 energy.

National plans and priorities for clean energy innovation

The third strand of the PIA was launched in 2018. The French government is currently initiating the construction of the next generation of financing instruments dedicated to research and innovation. In the continuity of what has been set-up in the last decade, visibility and stability on the long term are the fundaments of the reflexion launched by the Government. Investing to accelerate innovation for the Energy and Ecological Transition will be a cornerstone of the support mechanisms which will be set-up.

In this framework, it is planned to define priority sectors on which France will target the efforts. For the selected sectors, support will provide on the whole innovation channel, from basic research to demonstration and deployment.

New collaborations

Joint call ANR-BMBF for collaborative research projects on smart grids and renewable energy storage
France, Germany
Collaborative projects between German and French partners that conduct application-oriented basic research (TRL 1-5) aiming at highly innovative, cross-sectoral solutions for economically, ecologically and socially sustainable and secure energy storage and distribution in France, Germany and Europe.
Sectors: public-private
Type of collaboration: research
Duration: 2018

ERANet Geothermica
France, European Union
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
Find out more

ERANet Smart Energy Systems
France, European Commission
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
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ERANET ACT (Accelerated CCUS Technologies)
EU, Norway, UK, US, Switzerland, Canada, Turkey
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
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M ERA. Net
EU, Israel, Turkey, Russia, Taiwan, Quebec, South Africa
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

Eramin 2
EU, Turkey, Chile, Quebec, South Africa
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
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