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A bad pupil, the Ile-de-France region wants to supply its heating networks with 50% renewable energies. The objective is enshrined in its new Schéma régional climat air énergie, to be adopted at the end of the year.

The Ile-de-France region has a long way to go. Only 5% of its energy consumption comes from renewable energies, whereas the Grenelle 2 law sets the target at 23% by 2020. “We’re at the back of the pack among French regions”, admits Bernard Doroszczuk, director of the DRIEE (Direction régional et interdépartemental de l’environnement et de l’énergie). To catch up, the densely populated urban area of Ile-de-France can tackle the sources of its heating network. With almost 600 million square meters of floor space to heat – including housing, offices and factories – district heating monopolizes 60% of total energy consumption. It’s a potential that needs to be exploited. The Schéma régional climat air énergie (SRCAE – regional climate, air and energy plan) – called for by the Grenelle 2 law – on which the region and the French government have been working since 2009, has made this one of its priorities. Voted on by the Regional Council in June, the plan is due to be adopted before the end of the year, following a public consultation phase which ended on September 20. The objectives: to connect an additional 450,000 homes to the heating networks (which currently supply 1.1 million homes) by 2020, and to increase the share of renewable energies supplying this network to 50%, compared with 30% today. “It’s a question of connecting the city of Saint-Denis ten times over in the space of eight years,” translates Bernard Doroszczuk.

The main renewable sources used today are geothermal energy, whose potential is enormous in the Ile-de-France region, or household waste incineration. But there are other avenues to explore. For example, the city of Bailly-Romainvilliers (Seine-et-Marne), near Marne-la-Vallée, is experimenting with heat recovery from data centers, or wastewater treatment plants, as in the ZAC des Batignolles in Paris. Biomass also has a bright future ahead of it.

Support exists

The potential exists. Several studies unveiled at the third Assises des énergies renouvelables en milieu urbain, co-organized by DRIEE Ile-de-France and ADEME’s regional directorate, revealed as much last Tuesday. “We can double the use of geothermal energy in Ile-de-France and triple the use of biomass, says Gwénaël Guyonvarch, ADEME’s Ile-de-France regional director. In the case of biomass, we first need to structure the wood industry and create several dozen storage platforms. And we need to convince local authorities to speed up their geothermal investments, bearing in mind that a borehole costs several million euros. “The equipment lasts thirty years, and residents benefit from a reduced VAT rate of 5.5% on their bill, Ademe points out. Aids exist: Fonds Chaleur (20 million euros per year), European funds (13 million euros per year for the 2007-2013 period) or energy-saving certificates.
The work carried out with local authorities as part of the Greater Paris project should also help achieve these objectives. “We are going to introduce these commitments on the development of heating networks and renewable energies into the territorial development contracts (CDT), which will be signed between the end of 2012 and the end of 2013, indicates Bernard Doroszczuk.

MARION KINDERMANS, Les Echos, September 25, 2012