ERAI of Rhône-Alpes at cutting-edge in renewable energies

From: French Technology Press Bureau (FTPB)
Published: Thu Aug 18 2005

Poles of Competitiveness are being set up across France in a range of fields, as part of a scheme launched by France’s central government to boost research, innovation and business across the regions. The Renewable Energies Trade Fair takes place every two years and the 2005 event was the third of its kind. It included meetings between non-French buyers and companies established in the Rhône-Alpes region. Whereas other European countries have to draw on a more limited range of options in the field of renewable energies, France has multiple development possibilities, from solar energy to the use of wood and water, among others.

Around 10 Czech, Moroccan and Tunisian buyers came especially for the trade fair to meet companies from the Rhône-Alpes region selected by ERAI according to their projects, in order to increase their partnerships and commercial exchanges.

Two conferences to assess the challenges of the future

The trade show also gave participants the opportunity to discuss their experiences with the foreign experts who were present. Two conferences were organised by the Rhône-Alpes Regional Council at the Renewable Energies Trade Fair: one on the challenges and the future of renewable energies, together with the policies applicable to them (in co-operation with ADEME); the other on the Rhône-Alpes cluster for renewable energies and energy management.
These two conferences provided participants with the opportunity to converse with experts from all over the world, including representatives from clusters situated in the region of Nordrhein-Westphalia (Germany), in Catalonia (Spain), in Upper Austria (Austria), and in Japan.

In all, more than 300 participants were able to follow these exchanges, whether concerning the policies implemented or the support provided to the companies and players involved in the sector in the Rhône-Alpes region and abroad.

Regional policy measures implemented in Rhône-Alpes

The Rhône-Alpes Regional Council took advantage of the trade fair, and of the presence of the players involved in the sector, to announce its recently voted Regional Energy Plan, made up of 21 measures.
One of them concerns the launch of a pilot programme to carry out, with utmost efficiency, the thermal rehabilitation of an old housing project (concerning a total of around 150 homes built before 1975). This programme's stated ambition is to bring the consumption of primary energy down to 50 kWh/m2 per year for the heating of the buildings and to 10 kWh/m2 per year for the processing of sanitary hot water.

A unique forum on renewable energies

The Renewable Energies Trade Fair is a unique showcase for innovation and research in Rhône-Alpes. It is the only cutting-edge trade fair in Europe that covers all renewable-energy sectors and issues, i.e. bio-fuels, biogas, wood, wind, geothermal and hydraulic energy; measuring, metering and regulation; services and organisations; solar photovoltaic and thermal energy; and finally transport and energy distribution.

The number of exhibitors and visitors to the fair has grown constantly since 2001. This year, more than 340 exhibitors and 20,890 visitors, from France and outside, were present at the Renewable Energies Trade Fair.
In 2005, as a complement to the SANIPOLIS Bathroom and Sanitary Fittings Trade Exhibition, the Renewable Energies Trade Fair also hosted, for the first time, the ENEO (Energy, Climatic Comfort and Tomorrow's Services) Exhibition, organised simultaneously within the same exhibition centre.

About Rhône-Alpes

Rhône-Alpes — France's second most important region in economic terms, with a GDP of €143 billion — is a truly European region, with 14,000 companies involved in the export trade located across the region (5,000 non-French companies and 9,000 French ones). The Rhône-Alpes region boasts 29,000 researchers and 650 R&D laboratories, and files 15% of all French patents.
In 1987, the Rhône-Alpes Regional Council created ERAI, the Rhône-Alpes international business agency. This is a unique international business development initiative based in Rhône-Alpes, with nine offices throughout the world (in Europe, North America and Asia).

ERAI has three aims that are at the core of its activities. Firstly, ERAI aims to set up and co-ordinate collective actions for the benefit of business players in Rhône-Alpes, in order to support the international aspects of the region's sector policies, and also to better strengthen the economic aspects of co-operation agreements existing with other regions outside France. Secondly, ERAI aims to expand the export activities of SMEs established in the Rhône-Alpes region and to help those small and medium-size businesses set up offices and operations outside France. Thanks to ERAI’s support, SMEs can achieve those aims more speedily. Thirdly, ERAI’s objective is to attract and support foreign inward investment in Rhône-Alpes.

About the Rhône-Alpes Renewable Energies and Energy Conservation Cluster
This initiative, whose aim is to increase the competitiveness of Rhône-Alpes' companies and other players, is at the junction of two fields of excellence in the region — the environment and the energy sector. The regional authority set up the Renewable Energies and Energy Conservation Cluster initiative in 2004, which is focused on eco-building. The objective is to work towards the aim of becoming an eco-region and to strengthen the market position of the 400 companies and other players working in the field.

Rhônes-Alpes is a leading region in this respect, since it concentrates a quarter of available French skills in the field (12.5% of the national workforce). The region has highly and world-renowned research teams and industrial players in the sector, more particularly concerning solar thermal and photovoltaic energy (production of the majority of solar panels in France takes place in the region).

Among the leading companies established in the region, one finds Total Energie, Photowatt, Clipsol and Sunwatt. Besides, Rhônes-Alpes has a range of dedicated research centres, including INES (Institut National de l'Energie Solaire, the national institute for solar energy). The R&D facilities that are available combine public-sector research, research funded by private companies, and work done in higher-education institutions.
The region is also strong in the field of hydroelectricity (engineering and production), with R&D teams working on fuel cells at CEA (Atomic Energy Centre).

Five working groups have been set up within the framework of the regional cluster:

-Branding: creating a label for energy conservation products and the integration of renewable energies;
-Innovation: defining sophisticated demand criteria, then integrating and testing them in the public market place;
-Training the technicians of the future: organising the training of eco-building technicians;
-Corporate pool: developing products and solutions that integrate the concepts of service, guarantee and after-sales support for installations that are profitable and that can be reproduced;
-Holiday cottages: a specific project whose aim is to implement a pilot scheme, for the first time, concerning holiday cottages and bed & breakfasts in the region.

About the Renewable Energies Trade Fair 2007

ERAI would like to invite all interested parties to the next Renewable Energies Trade Fair, in the early part of 2007 (14 to 17 February 2007), which will be the fourth of its kind.

The event will afford the building of relevant contacts in the renewable energies sector. Potential participants can be sent a personalised programme of visits and interviews. They should get in touch with ERAI or contact Ms Kate Ambler, FTPB’s press officer, who will forward all requests to the event’s organisers.

A personalised programme is also available on Pollutec 2005, including interviews and other data concerning the Pole of Competitiveness status, which the Rhône-Alpes region has just been awarded on New Energy Technologies. Poles of Competitiveness are being set up across France in a range of fields, as part of a scheme launched by France’s central government to boost research, innovation and business across the regions.

For more information, go to:
Company: French Technology Press Bureau (FTPB)
Contact Name: Kate Ambler
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 0207 235 53 30

Visit website »