Since 2010, the French Agency for the Environment and Energy Management (ADEME) has been in charge of four investment programmes to support testing in real conditions and demonstration plants for renewable energy and green chemistry, lowcarbon vehicle, smart grid and circular economy projects. Totalling EUR 2.45 billion of credits, this initiative is part of the EUR 35 billion Investments for the Future (PIA) programme. The programme is already demonstrating its ability to unite companies and research partners, and to stimulate their innovationcapabilities. Compared to other existing national research programmes, this new programme aims at bringing innovation to the market and focuses on specific fields set up by strategic roadmaps.
Specific fields eligible for funding include:
(i) renewable energy and green chemistry (EUR 1.1 billion): development of new technologies in decarbonised energy (e.g. solar, wind), bioresources, low-carbon buildings, energy storage and carbon capture and storage (CCS);
(ii) smart grids (EUR 165 million): research and testing in real conditions to enable the integration of intermittent renewable energies into electrical grids and to promote “smart services” that improve energy demand management;
(iii) circular economy (EUR 210 million): demonstration plants and circular economy industries, including waste management, soil and sediment remediation, ecodesign and industrial ecology; and
(iv) lowcarbon vehicles (EUR 950 million): development of innovative technologies and solutions focused on land and sea transportation.
To manage these projects, ADEME developed specific financial tools, bearing in mind the public objectives of job creation, activity development in the French territory, economic competitiveness and environmental benefits:
(i) state aids complying with European Union regulations on competition. This type of support, the most widely used, consists of refundable grants, where the return mechanism is correlated to the project’s success, and of traditional (non-refundable) grants, mostly dedicated to research laboratories and smalland medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); and
(ii) equity investment tools, where the state plays the role of market investor, one for SME projects and one for intermediate-sized and large enterprise projects. The first 115 selected projects represent investments of more than EUR 3 billion, supported with EUR 940 million from the programme to date. Around two-thirds of allocated credits generate financial returns for the state, based on a risk/gain sharing policy, a new unique form of public-private partnerships in France.