France launches a major renewable energy investment programme

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Courtesy of Vital Efficienci Ltd.

The French government launches a major programme to provide €1.35bn of financial support to the renewable sector over the next four years, reports Envido.

The French government has launched a major renewable energy investment programme called: «Démonstrateurs et plates-formes technologiques en énergies renouvelables et décarbonées et chimie verte», that promises to provide €1.35bn (£1.1bn) of financial support to the renewable sector over the next four years.

The renewable energy investment programme will provide €450m in subsidies and a further €900m in low-interest loans to cutting-edge technology projects. About €190m will be invested before the end of the year 2010, with €290m set aside over the next 4 years up to 2014.
The target of the renewable energy investment programme are emerging clean technologies that face relatively high development costs, such as solar, marine and geothermal energy as well as carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects and advance biofuel development.

The French government wants to attract about €2bn of private sector investment to complement the renewable energy investment programme

The move marks something of a shift in strategy for France, which has previously targeted the volume of its low-carbon investment at more established technologies such as nuclear and wind energy, to a lesser extent. The low cost of abundant nuclear power has made France relatively immune from the energy insecurity faced by the rest of Europe. While Germany and Spain have installed large amounts of solar and wind energy, France remains a laggard in this respect.

Charlie Hodges, an industry analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance in London said: “While the French government has historically backed mature, low cost, carbon emission-free technologies like nuclear and onshore wind, these funds will directly assist companies at the other end of the energy cost spectrum.”

With the new renewable energy investment, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency is now seeking applications for funding from companies and research bodies undertaking demonstration projects and testing of new technologies. The government said it was also seeking to attract about €2bn of private sector investment to complement the renewable energy investment programme.

The renewable energy investment programme will focus on three key stages between the research phase of the project and commercial development. They include research demonstration projects, pre-commercialization experiments and technological testing platforms.

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