Priority Export Family: “Renewable Energies”

Renewable energy is experiencing a worldwide boom due to the drop in the cost of technologies and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2016, renewable energy sources (RES) accounted for 17.5% of totalš finalš energy consumption worldwide, and this figure should reach 50% by 2040. To confirm its leadership in the fight against climate change, France has set itself the goal of ensuring that 32% of final energy consumption is from RES by 2030, building on its expertise and internationally recognized businesses in the field. From an economic point of view, the positioning of French companies in this sector and the promotion of their know-how for export purposes are extremely important. Since the beginning of 2018, French businesses have completed more than 80 projects in 44 countries (solar power plants, wind farms and more).

For this reason, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs has appointed a Renewable Energy Exports Unifier. The Unifier’s role is to promote and structure French products and services internationally.

International growth in an emerging sector

The renewable energy sector is growing around the world due to the development of solar and wind capacities. Between 2009 and 2018, global installed renewable energy capacity grew by 100 GW per year, to reach 1,179 GW in 2018. This growth should continue between 2019 and 2030, resulting in additional capacity of 2,000 GW, with 60% from solar energy sources. [1].

This growth can be explained by the role played by RES in economic, environmental, health and sovereignty issues:

  • RES are the main way in which the 195 countries (including the European Union) which signed the Paris Agreement in December 2015 will meet their greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets.
  • RES help fight air pollution, which has become a priority for many countries.
  • RES help diversify the energy mix and increase energy independence, which in turn supports energy supply security.
  • RES are now competitive energy sources and create local jobs, as a result of their spectacular drop in price.

Despite this growth, some challenges must still be overcome if the goals set by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) are to be met under the Paris Agreement. In its Roadmap to 2050, it states that electricity should make up 50% of the total energy mix by 2050, and 86% of this production should come from RES. [2]

France’s international position in the renewable energy sector

France has an extensive network of start-ups, SMEs and major groups with internationally recognized expertise. In addition to being positioned across all renewable energy sectors (wind energy, solar energy, hydroelectricity, biomass, geothermal energy, marine energy, etc.), French businesses are active in innovative sectors combining cutting-edge technologies and industry, such as storage and smart grids. With the second-largest maritime area in the world, France is also actively involved in developing the high-potential marine renewable energy industry (fixed and floating wind turbines, ocean thermal energy, hydropower turbines, etc.).

France has significant renewable power generation capacity (50.5 GW), and ranks third among EU Member States, behind Germany and Italy. This position has allowed French businesses to develop and showcase their projects nationally, supporting exports of French expertise.

Since the beginning of 2018, French businesses have completed more than 80 projects* in 44 countries (solar power plants, wind farms and more). Over the past 18 months, RES have resulted in almost €5 billion in investment and 3,000 jobs. Promoting this expertise abroad is a key challenge. For this reason, a Renewable Energy Exports Unifier has been appointed.

The role of the Renewable Energy Exports Unifier

Appointed by the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Unifier is charged with promoting the French renewable energy industry abroad, and identifying tangible ways of improving the industry’s collective effectiveness. He develops synergies with initiatives launched by the authorities to structure the export industry, particularly as part of the Strategic Committee for Eco-Industries and in collaboration with institutional partners such as professional trade unions.

The Unifier plays a central role in promoting and structuring French products and services internationally. His main activities are the following:

  • He promotes France’s products and services, especially those produced by SMEs, by highlighting its expertise and innovation potential in priority countries or areas identified with other export stakeholders (including the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Economy and Finance, and the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition), and by creating renewable energy clubs in these markets (three have been set up in Abu Dhabi, Nairobi and Jakarta).
  • He supports the inclusion of SMEs and start-ups in collective initiatives as a way of encouraging their international expansion. This generally means joining forces with large groups where appropriate – if a project requires an integrated approach and/or specific expertise developed by an SME or start-up.
  • He maintains and drives institutional momentum in the export field, bringing together competent authorities and other stakeholders concerned, particularly the Syndicat des Énergies Renouvelables. He brings his expertise to collective reflections on how to optimize public support for the sector’s internationalization and ensures that initiatives are well coordinated. His activities also seek to ensure the consistency of post-COP 21 climate initiatives in the private sector (the International Solar Alliance, the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, etc.) and work carried out by IRENA.

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Updated: June 2019

[1Source : AIE WEO 2018, IRENA 2019

[2Source: Syndicat des Énergies Renouvelables (SER) and ADEME