By Hugues Chanoine

On October 11th, a commission led by former Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon called “Innovation 2030” handed in its report to President François Hollande. Mr Hollande presented it while visiting French startup ENNESYS on the same day. This report presents the seven global innovation trends in which French industry must be involved to ensure long-term job creation. It was ordered by the President in April. The first trend identified by the report is energy storage, including mechanical, chemical, electrochemical and thermal storage.

The report considers that grid peak demand will keep increasing in the next two decades, and so will renewable energies, and storage is seen as an efficient tool to deal with these tendencies, albeit too expensive for the moment.

As France currently has a strong grid with reliable nuclear energy, the drivers for energy storage development are weak. Therefore incentives are needed to help storage take off in the country.  The report suggests four key actions:

  • Promote RD&D through an innovation competition within two months, especially in the French Island territories. This competition will happen in the seven innovation trends identified, with a total budget of 300 m€.
  • Give a clear status (generator? ancillary equipment?) to storage by making it mandatory on renewable plants and putting in place a clear economic business case;
  • Increase storage purchase by the public sector;
  • Change the regulation to include storage, for instance:
    • By modifying renewable feed-in tariffs to favor storage;
    • Or by defining clear requirements for the construction industry so that storage manufacturers know how to design their products.

During his speech, Mr Hollande specified the following details regarding the call for tenders. It shall start on December 1st and each project is eligible for 200 000 €, provided the project development takes place in France and the project creates jobs in France. Results will be published in Q1 2014. A second round will take place at a later and unspecified date, with funds up to 2 m€ and above for each project. Moreover, each funded euro will have to be matched by a private euro.

This report creates public as well as governmental awareness about storage and is likely to at least unlock local ideas, initiatives and ultimately storage projects. However, it is too soon to tell what will actually come out of it. It may start long term policies as intended or may well suffer modifications, which is the risk faced by all high-level governmental reports.