The French government’s recovery plan, France Relance, aims to speed up the ecological conversion of our economy and our productive fabric: out of €100bn, €30bn will be devoted to financing the ecological transition. ENGIE, with its strategy and activities, is fully in line with the objectives of this plan and is positioning itself as a player committed to a green recovery that creates value.
On Thursday 3 September, the government presented its France Relance plan, a road map “for the economic, social and ecological reconstruction of the country” following the Covid-19 health crisis. Of the €100bn promised by the government, €30bn will be devoted to the ecological transition, in several strategic areas: in particular, the energy renovation of buildings (a budget of €2bn), green infrastructure and mobility (€1.2bn), decarbonisation of industry (€1.2bn) and the development of green technologies (€2bn). The goal is ambitious: to make France the first major carbon-free economy in Europe.
Driven by our purpose, “to act to accelerate the transition towards a carbon-neutral economy”, our Group has called several times since the end of lockdown for the recovery to be used as a lever to speed up the transition of the economic model.
The first issue is the urgent need to implement the recovery plan, as explained on French radio Europe 1 by Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Chairman of the Group’s Board of Directors: “There is an urgent need to put the recovery plan measures in place very quickly. It’s a question of weeks, of months. It is absolutely essential that the plan is applied to concrete projects, ready to start very quickly.”
The recovery plan will consist, in particular for the pillar devoted to ecological transition, of calls for projects that will direct public investment towards projects that are beneficial for the environment. The first such calls were launched at the end of August 2020 and will close in mid-October.
“The second lesson is that they must be targeted at creating long-term social and ecological value,” said Claire Waysand, ENGIE’s interim CEO, at the Forum of the Americas. “The first of the challenges facing our societies is social cohesion: in a number of societies, inequalities have been growing and that’s a threat to social cohesion.”
Claire Waysand, Miami Conference/Forum of the Americas, 01/09/2020: “Powering the green recovery through public private partnerships”
This plan, clearly focused on a green recovery, is at the heart of what ENGIE offers. In the industrial decarbonisation component, for example, the government plans to finance projects on energy efficiency, the decarbonisation of production processes and low-carbon heat. ENGIE is therefore on the front line, since the plan’s objectives are at the intersection of the Group’s two strategic priorities:
“This green recovery is really at the heart of what we are positioned to contribute,” said Claire Waysand, speaking at the Forum of the Americas on the need for public/private coordination for a green recovery. “We are very committed to the development and acceleration of investments in renewable energies (...) We very much believe that, player by player, there is much that needs to done and can be done. The good news is that both communities and companies are more and more interested in reducing their carbon footprint.”
A report from the World Economic Forum published in July indicates that a green recovery could create 395 million jobs worldwide and deliver more than $10 trillion in business opportunities by 2030. This would concern three key areas: energy, buildings and food. Companies have an essential role to play in this energy transition because they have the necessary technology, innovation and financing.
“All studies show that, in order to meet the targets that we need to meet on climate change, we need to reduce our energy consumption,” said Claire Waysand at the Forum of the Americas. But, in addition to the interest of the recovery for speeding up the ecological transition, the plans must also help to restart activity and create jobs. These “energy efficiency measures” are activities that can benefit large, medium and small businesses, Claire Waysand explained. “There is a whole value chain of companies that are operating on energy efficiency.”
In addition to the France Relance plan and that presented by the European Commission in July, the French government’s special plan for hydrogen will bring public spending in this field up to €7.2bn by 2030.
Judith Hartmann, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, spoke on this subject on 14 September, on online French TV channel BSmart: “Hydrogen is an element that can green energy, that can green gas. With the recovery plan, investments in hydrogen have increased twentyfold. For France and Europe, there is a historic opportunity to create the sector and move to the industrial scale,” she explained. “Hydrogen is an energy that allows storage of renewable energies when there is overproduction.”
The recovery plan also includes support for a green hydrogen production unit operated by ENGIE at an ArianeGroup site in the Eure. This unit will test cutting-edge technologies for maritime and inland waterway applications.
With the French and European recovery plans, in coordination with public players, ENGIE intends to contribute strongly to the objective set by the European Union on 16 September, strengthening its CO2 emissions reduction target to at least 55% by 2050. This is the meaning behind ENGIE’s purpose, “to act to accelerate the transition towards a carbon-neutral economy”.