Green competitiveness – France is on the move (February 2014)

France has the world’s third best-rated energy system, ahead of 102 countries, according to a study by Accenture/World Economic Forum. Nuclear power scores it high marks for sustainable development. Three criteria were used: energy access, sustainable development and energy competitiveness. France is ranked second in the world, after Sweden, on the sustainable development criteria.

Support for clean technology

President François Hollande has plans “to make France a nation of environmental excellence” (speaking at the first annual environment conference). France will encourage the development of renewable energy from biofuels, wind and solar power. Technological innovation will be encouraged through public investment funds, simplified administrative procedures and planning rules for wind farms. By the end of the year, calls for tender will be launched for offshore wind farms in the English Channel off the coast of Le Tréport and near the island of Noirmoutier.

Through the “Environment Conference” round table launched in September 2012, France launched a national consultation process focusing, in particular, on managing the energy transition and protecting biodiversity. An energy transition planning act will be submitted to parliament in 2013;

The “Energy-Climate Package” adopted by the EU in 2008 calls for a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, along with a 20% increase in energy efficiency, and to achieve a 20% share of renewable energies in EU final energy consumption;

France’s Green New Deal targets for developing green buildings, renewable energy, clean technology and sustainable transport:

  • Agriculture: doubling the tax credit for organic farming in 2009
  • Construction: new energy efficiency standards to be applied to new buildings from 2012
  • Transport: reducing CO2 emissions by 20% with a view to bringing them back down to 1990 levels by 2020
  • Electricity: ending the sale of incandescent light bulbs from 2010, ahead of EU targets. Ensuring energy independence for French overseas territories and safeguarding their biodiversity.

As part of its “Green New Deal”, France has set itself a more ambitious target of achieving a 23% share of renewable energy in domestic final energy consumption by 2020 (source: National Renewable Energy Action Plan-French Ministry for Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing, 2010);

France attracts green business investors

“At Natura we believe that innovation is the key to sustainable development, and France is where we’ve tested many new approaches to our business”, Alexandro Giuseppe Carlucci, CEO Natura.

Nuclear power plants currently make for greater price stability and energy independence. According to the 2012 report by France’s electricity transmission system operator Réseau de Transport d’Electricité, 75% comes from nuclear power, 11.8% from hydro power, 2.8% from wind power, and 0.7% from solar photovoltaic power.

France also has lower electricity and natural gas prices than Germany, while electricity remains cheaper than in the UK. France also has the fourth-smallest rise in energy prices over the last five years, and the sixth-smallest rise in consumer prices.

For example, France has attractive feed-in tariffs (€0.3555/kWh to €0.4063/kWh) for photovoltaic electricity generated by building-integrated solar panels.

The cheapest electricity in Western Europe

Electricity rates for manufacturers (second semester, 2011)
France: 6.6 (c€/kWh exc. VAT)
Germany: 8.9 (c€/kWh exc. VAT)
UK: 9.9 (c€/kWh exc. VAT)

(source: Accenture/WEF 2013)

A large number of foreign companies are active in the French energy and green technology market, including General Electric, Siemens, Enercon, Vestas, Sunpower, Bombardier, Johnson Controls and Toshiba;

France is also the host country for the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) project, which involves designing and building an experimental fusion reactor capable of producing virtually clean and unlimited energy for industrial use;

France has the fourth-lowest CO2 emissions intensity (CO2 emissions / GDP) in the world, and a smaller carbon footprint than other European countries, including Germany and the United Kingdom. (source: IMD, World Competitiveness Yearbook, 2012).

Dedicated structures and incentives for industry and research

Eleven “world-class institutions for low-carbon energy” to support long-term partnerships between higher education and research institutions and companies (€920 million in incentives under the National Investment Programme);

World-class research centres, including the National Institute for Solar Energy (Institut National de l’Energie Solaire – INES), Grenoble’s smart grids centre and the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research) PROMES laboratory on thermodynamic solar energy in Perpignan;

Specific feed-in tariffs for electricity generated from renewable sources; interest-free “eco-loans” to finance thermal renovation work and tax deductibility for certain types of energy efficiency work (reduced-rate VAT and/or a specific tax credit); guaranteed subsidized “green loans” for SMEs;

Under the National Investment Programme, €2.8 billion dedicated to investment in low-carbon

Energy demonstrators and green chemistry, vehicles for the future, smart grids and the circular economy

Development of electric and hybrid vehicles, supported by the “Automobile Plan” launched by the French government in July 2012. Development training, from baccalaureate to degree level, has risen 2.2% per year since 1997.

Focus: France is at the forefront of the electric vehicle industry Now

French carmakers are making leadership in low-emission cars a central business goal.

PSA Peugeot Citroën and Renault SA are strongly committed to electric technology and supply around three-quarters of Europe’s electric vehicle market.

For example, Renault offers affordable, zero-emission vehicles such as the compact Zoe, its fourth electric model. Peugeot 3008 is the world’s first mass-produced hybrid diesel car. The new-generation electric car Citroën C-Zero was launched in 2010 and was used in a 15,000-mile world tour, the “Electric Odyssey”, to improve the general public’s understanding of the potential of electric cars.

Paris electric car hire ‘Autolib’ is not only a world first but a triumph, with 42,000 subscribers who have driven more than four million miles. The ‘Bluecars’ are equipped with a high-performance lithium metal polymer battery.

Next year, Peugeot will launch the Partner Electric and Citroën Berlingo Electric delivery vans.


  • Electricity is cheaper and less carbon-emitting
  • The industry receives government support: it has allocated €100 million to four innovation clusters for research into low-carbon vehicles and emissions reduction (id4Car, Lyon Urban Truck & Bus, Mov’eo, Vehicles for the Future)
  • Laws restricting polluting cars in town centres are encouraging carbon-emitting habits to change


With 15,000 units, France’s fleet of electric passenger and lightweight utility vehicles is the largest in Europe and the third-largest in the world, after the US and Japan.

(source: excerpt from

Source : french embassy in UK’s website