Room for improvement for French energy balance

French Sustainable Development Committee, sustainable energy sources,  energy consumption, energy efficiencyThe French Sustainable Development Committee (CGDD) issues a yearly report on the country’s energy situation. Based on data provided by the observation and statistics department of the Ministry of Sustainable Development, it serves as a step towards the goals defined by the government. Consumer price inflation and development of sustainable energy sources are at the heart of the ministry’s thinking as it appears in the 2011 report published this summer.

Overall, the CGDD pinpoints two major phenomena affecting our energy balance negatively:

  • Higher primary energy consumption (+0.8%, based on data taking climate variations into account)
  • Rising energy prices on international markets due to geopolitical uncertainty

In spite of the relative success of wind energy programmes or improvements in energy transformation and distribution, the report goes through a number of areas in sustainable development where France has not made improvements: the share of renewable energy sources is going down, that of petrol-based products is going up (+2%) and final energy consumption is rising (+0.4%).

Reducing energy consumption to boost household purchasing power

Whereas the impact on the environment of lower energy consumption is obvious, the study puts an emphasis above all on its economic consequences, the objective being to boost companies’ competitiveness and household purchasing power. Besides, it shows that France is lagging behind in the implementation of its national action plan (PNA), which is meant to meet the goals defined by the directive 2099/28/EC, for instance because the share of renewable energy sources in final energy consumption has decreased.

Further efforts needed to promote renewable energy sources and energy efficiency

According to the report, further efforts are needed to promote renewables and to meet the double goal of reducing energy imports (accounting for 88% of France’s trade deficit) and meeting international commitments to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Parallel to this endeavour on energy production, the CGDD recommends accelerating shifts in consumption patterns through the improvement of equipment’s energy intensity (that is a lower energy consumption to gross domestic product ratio: GDP growth should not be automatically related to higher energy consumption).

Energy intensity in France has decreased by 1.3% yearly since 2005, which means that the country has not met the targets defined by the Energy Programme Act of July 2005, which required a yearly 2% reduction until 2015.

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