Thursday, 22 July 2021 07:29

France to capitalise on ‘resounding success’ of green renovation Featured


The government’s MaPrimeRenov’ scheme, which helps households make energy efficiency renovation of buildings is a “resounding success”, France’s ecological transition ministry said on Monday (19 July), hoping many more will apply to the scheme in 2021. EURACTIV France reports.

The French government and the office of Environmental Minister Barbara Pompili welcomed the enthusiasm for the energy renovation of buildings at the third national monitoring committee of the France Relance plan on Monday.

The ecological transition ministry called the MaPrimeRenov’ scheme, an emblematic measure of the French recovery plan, a “resounding success”.

The number of applications for the scheme which allows households to finance insulation, heating, ventilation work to reduce energy bills, continues to rise. While only 190,000 applications were submitted last year, 380,000 have been submitted so far in 2021.

The ministry even hopes to take it up a notch. While it aims for 500,000 renovations per year, “700,000 are expected” by 2021, Barbara Pompili’s office has said.

“Beyond the environmental issues, both in terms of decarbonisation and energy savings, we are on a real stimulus package, with a strong leverage effect that brings purchasing power to households,” the minister’s office added.

According to the government, the scheme “allows savings accumulated during the health crisis to be channelled into investments that create a lot of jobs that cannot be relocated and a lot of added value. This structures the energy renovation sectors that are essential for achieving medium- and long-term environmental objectives.”

To keep up the momentum, the economy ministry in Bercy will inject an additional €2 billion into MaPrimeRénov’ in September.

Abolition of energy-saving incentives worries French building sector

The €2 billion of financial aid to boost energy renovation in France’s COVID recovery plan may not be enough to compensate for the abolition of financial assistance provided to households under the so-called “energy saving incentives” – or what the French ministry has branded “coups de pouce isolation”. EURACTIV France reports.

Distribution of funds

Of France’s €100 billion recovery plan, €30 billion have been earmarked for the ecological transition. On top of that, France will receive €39.4 billion for its recovery from Brussels. Though a minimum of 37% of EU funds must be allocated to the energy transition, France has committed to investing almost half of the funds in the fight against climate change.

Most of the funds, or €5.8 billion, will be allocated to the energy renovation of buildings, while the rest will go to the development of “clean” hydrogen (€1.9 billion), and to the upgrading of the French rail network with almost €4.4 billion devoted to infrastructure renovation.

These massive investments in renovation are in line with the objectives of the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, which was last updated in 2018.

In Europe, the sector accounts for 40% of total energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions. The European Commission launched a public consultation in March with a view to review the EPBD and make it compatible with the objectives of the Green Deal. A legislative proposal is expected in December.

The future directive is part of the EU strategy presented last October which aims to renovate 35 million buildings on the continent by 2030.

EU deal sets off race to renovate Europe’s building stock

After a third round of talks, EU lawmakers reached an agreement Tuesday (19 December) on the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), firing the starting gun to renovate Europe’s entire building stock by 2050 so that it becomes “nearly zero emissions”.

Urban sprawl and electric cars

But France is looking to make investments in other areas too.

The government plans to allocate 126,000 “electricity bonuses” to support households buying an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, up from 117,000 attributed in 2020.

There is also €300 million available for drinking water infrastructures, which have suffered from investment delays in recent years. And the government intends to double the wasteland fund’s current €300 million budget, which is invested mainly in measures to counter soil artificialisation.

According to the government, deployment of the recovery plan is proceeding “satisfactorily”, with a few rare exceptions, such as long-term partial unemployment or the equity capital granted to companies.

Of the €100 billion allocated to the plan, €40 billion have already been mobilised, a figure the government hopes to increase to €70 billion before year’s end.

Expert: Limit living space to shrink building carbon footprint

Energy efficient building renovation is not enough to lessen the climate impact of residential buildings, according to one sustainability expert who is calling for a limit on the living space allocated per person in residential homes.