Europe: Political support brings jobs boost

While the renewable and "decarbonised energies" sector provides 60,000 jobs in France, with 7000 coming from wind, the Renewable Energies Syndicate (SER) estimates that with strong political support and a stable regulatory framework, the Grenelle initiatives could add a further 220,000 jobs by 2020, taking the wind sector's contribution alone to 60,000.

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But even more promising figures have been produced by American strategy and management firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG), commissioned by environment minister Jean-Louis Borloo to analyse the effect of the Grenelle and the government's financial stimulus package on economic growth, employment and France's ability to meet its renewables.

BGC's report, published in June, claims that by 2020 the Grenelle initiatives could create around 600,000 jobs, mainly in the building, infrastructure and renewable energy sectors. It also stated that Grenelle would generate activity worth EUR450 million over the next 12 years, improve the balance of trade by reducing thermal energy consumption by 25%, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 24%.

The report argues that a key measure will be to establish an industrial base for offshore wind, which would involve financing research and development, building demonstration projects, encouraging local players to pool knowledge and share risk, and making it easier to build offshore projects in France. BCG believes that France could also play a role in developing electric vehicles, in carbon capture and storage, in biomass and in smart grids.

While Sarkozy is keen for France to make up for lost time in its deployment of renewables, BCG says that to achieve the projected figures, the government must adopt a coherent and consistent ten-year strategy, establishing a common vision with clear financial priorities, and ensuring public support and close central coordination.

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