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Green energies in France, a potential that is still little exploited

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The dynamism of their exploitation is one of the challenges of sustainable development, preached by the major international conferences, including recently the COP 21. And if France has tremendous breeding grounds for green energy, their exploitation remains very limited or even insignificant for maritime energies, ranking the country below the European average.

Maritime energy, great French potential

In terms of green energies, France has a huge amount of money, thanks to its maritime resources. With nearly eleven million square kilometers of maritime zones (including the overseas territories), France is the second largest maritime power in the world, behind the United States. The sea is likely to provide several sources of energy, called Renewable Marine Energies (RME). If the maritime wind turbines ("posed") are exploited industrially, most of the other MRE still remain in the shade.

Tidal energy is based on the power of the tides, particularly important in France, with tidal ranges of no less than four meters in the Atlantic. Wave energy uses the increasingly regular wave originally produced on the sea by the wind. Here too, France shares gigantic potential with Scotland and Ireland. Finally, marine thermal energy uses the power generated by the cold lower and warm upper layers of the ocean, thanks to a thermal machine. Despite the proliferation of projects in recent years, MREs still remain unexploited in France.

Wind and wood, more or less well exploited resources

The other great French potential lies in wind energy, with the second largest European deposit behind the United Kingdom. Alas, although since 2013 the efforts in this area are important (500 new wind turbines laid each year), France is the 4th European wind power producer after Germany, Spain and the United United. Production thus remains confidential, with only 3.5% of national production. According to the Grenelle de l'Environnement commitments, the objective is however to reach 10% in 2020 and 20% in 2030, an objective which certainly seems somewhat ambitious.

A great French national resource comes from "biomass": wood. With a third of its wooded territory, France embodies the third largest forest potential in Europe, and the leading European energy consumer. Wood as energy represents 47% of French renewable energies, which is the most important. And wood is a key player in the fight against greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

True carbon sinks, fully recyclable, trees capture the carbon dioxide necessary for their growth and retain it throughout their life. Ecological logging of forests ensures optimal growth of the youngest trees and generates a balanced development of forest areas. And here again, the French potential is significant, with an annual cutting rate lower than the natural increase: 42 million m3 withdrawn per year, against 86 new million m3 / year.

A delay to be overcome with difficulty from 2020

In the European fight for the development of green energies, France is somewhat behind the objectives set by the European Union. In 2008, the EU announced an “energy-climate package”, with France targeting 23% of renewable energies (RE) by 2020. And even if since 2013 progress has been undeniable, in particular with Wind and photovoltaic energy, difficult to maintain. A result below the European average (15%), which ranks France at a very mediocre 16th position.

In the European competition for green energies, the champions are unsurprisingly located in Northern Europe. Sweden, the most ecological country in the world, already achieves 52.1% of RE, ahead of Latvia (37.1%) or Finland (36.8%). In Southern Europe, Spain and Italy also obtain good results, superior to France. The poor performers are the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium, with ENR rates below 8%.

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