Barriers and recommendations
|I. Why and how to develop wind energy in France
A. The reasons
B. The necessary and preliminary conditions
II. How and why to encourage local financing of wind energy
A. The reasons
B. Constraints and solutions
I. Why and how to develop wind energy in France
A. The reasons
The renewable energies do not emit gas with greenhouse effect, major cause of climate change. They do not produce important quantities of waste, certain highly dangerous and extremely long life cycle.
Furthermore, the fundamental resources to which refers to renewable energies are by definition inexhaustible, because they are link to physical energy streams, since the sun radiation up to the wood.
That is why, associated to efforts of sobriety (needs decreasing) and efficiency (improvement of the performances of final consumers equipment), they establish the third and essential pillar of any energy system aiming compatibility with sustainable development.
As regards the electricity, France was for a long time among the European countries having most appeal to renewable sources to cover its needs, notably thanks to the hydroelectric production. Already strongly present in the mountainous regions (the Alps and Pyrenees notably) before the second world war, the hydro-electricity especially developed between 1950 and 1960 thanks to the construction of big dams on most of the rivers until cover 15 % of the current consumption.
In the frame of the of European Commission White Paper and the commitments of Kyoto, France undertook through the Directive on the promotion of the electricity of renewable origin, adopted in September, 2001, to increase the share of renewable electricity at the level of 21 % in 2010.
Because of the saturation of the hydroelectric potential, the very relative industrial maturity of the photovoltaic and the slowness of the biomass (wood or biogas) projects implementation, wind energy appears today as being by far the main technology to allow France to respect its commitments. According to sources and methods of calculation, it would so be necessary to have installed between 10000 and 14000 MW of wind energy in 2010. The effectively operational 230MW at the end of 2003, remind cruelly the importance of the delay.
Although this challenge can seem difficult to achieve considering the difficulties met on the field for the projects implementation, it is perfectly compatible with the physical potential of France. Our country has the second European wind energy potential following Great Britain, estimated at 50 000 MW among which 30 000 MW in off shore potential.
The speed up wind energy development in France should be thus considered as an objective of highly strategic general interest due to Its positive contribution to the economic development, to the industrial employment and to the safety of supply, adds to its qualities in environment.
The wind energy projects, according to the way they are implemented, also constitute effective supports in the local and sustainable development of the rural territories.
B. The necessary and preliminary conditions
Although it reached a high degree of technical and industrial maturity thanks to the efforts of country as Denmark or Germany which supported its development since about twenty year, the wind energy field is not still able of supporting a direct competition with the conventional sources of production of electricity as the coal, the petroleum, the natural gas or the nuclear.
Everybody recognise today that these last ones benefit all in different degrees of three major advantages:
- the non-consideration in their current selling prices of the indirect cost of the environmental impacts which they impose or on the health with short, average and long term effects(" negative externalities "), what confers them an extraordinary competitive advantage
- the profit of massive public financing which are actually similar to more or less direct subsidies, for example for the R*D, the management of the toxic waste with long life, the coverage of the industrial risks, the geopolitical contingencies (armed conflicts or not). It leads to a distortion of competition impossible to overcome.
- the historic anteriority who confer them a support without defect of various, powerfully and established lobbying groups.
The implementation of a fiscal instrument such as pollution taxes, which is in coherence with the principle of sustainable development, would strengthen the competitiveness of the renewable energies by bringing them a source of financing for their needs.
It would sign in a sensational way the long-term political commitment of policy makers .
Facing the lack of agreement between States, all the renewable fields need, in different degrees and according to different modalities, to benefit from compensation mechanisms.
Based on the principle of the positive discrimination, they should allow every field to have necessary time to find its balance in the economy thanks to the decline of the cost link to the technological evolutions and to the effect of series.
This strictly economic approach is necessary but far from being sufficient. The installation of wind machines should also take into account a technical and administrative context.
The access to the electric networks distribution (medium voltage) or transport (high voltage) should be guaranteed and fair. In particular, sharing of the costs of network upgrade (extensions and enforcement) among the wind energy producers and the administrators of networks should not punish excessively the first ones.
The simplification of the administrative procedures both for the access to the network and during the development of the projects should continue.
The recent evolution of the local tax system could become an important locking point and should be considered.
Finally, and it is a crucial point for the future of the on shore wind development, it is necessary to keep in mind that wind projects are implemented within territories which present specific environment, landscape and social characteristics. The territorial successful integration necessary to allow a steady and harmonious development of the wind energy, requires then to take into account notably following three elements:
- The " spatial planning », a term which indicates a process of evaluation of the accommodation facilities of wind machines on a given territory, according to technical criteria, of manners, environmental, landscaped,
This evaluation is more or less precise according to the envisaged scale of territory, since that of the region in that of a community of municipalities.
- The implementation of communication methods is essential to lead in good conditions these reflections of territorial organisation, and it is particularly true when takes place in an intermunicipalities scale.
This communication should also be regular during the development of the projects, particularly during the initial phases. It allows to anticipate collectively the announced evolutions, to reduce the anxieties, to strengthen the local appropriation and by the same the acceptance of the projects.
It requires the implication of all the categories of local concerned actors (municipalities, services of the state, the associations, the local residents, the property owners potential subcontractors, etc.), beyond the simple legal obligations (public inquiry).
- Among the modalities of implication, the local financing offers the possibility to the closeness population of wind projects to participate in the investment, even if it is about limited amounts.
Locally, it expresses very concretely a successful social appropriation of the projects.
More widely, the investment citizen via specific capital or public calls could allow a wider implication of the civil society in the development of a sustainable energy field.
1. The long-term political commitment
Seen from the outside, the political commitment of the French leaders in favour of the renewable energies generally and of the wind energy in particular is doubtless. The Law of February 2000, so dedicated the general interest attached to the development of these technologies of production of electricity and gave the legal bases essential to the implementation of support mechanisms of which were the object of later legal texts.
This commitment afterward joined in the perspective of the Directive 2001-77 on the production of electricity from renewable sources. Repeated by the new government after the parliamentary change in 2002, it was notably translated by the publication on March 7, 2003 of the Multiannual Programme of the Investments which foresees an objective from 2 000 to 6 000 MW for the wind energy in 2007. One can nevertheless wonder about the gap between the high objective and the low objective.
Finally, it thus seems that this commitment was the object of a wide consensus within the French political class, what should offer him the required political continuance. This evolution of mind and the new rule led the extremely fast takeoff of the French market, implying from 2001 a particularly sustained activity supported by the developers of projects in the windy regions of France.
But after several years of intense activity, force is to notice that the expectation was rather widely disappointed with only 230 MW installed at the end of 2003.
This can be explaining largely by a legal frame and administrative procedures that requires a little of time for adaptation. Some indications lets think not only that the expressed political willingness did not yet succeed in overcoming the hesitations and the customs of certain number of unavoidable protagonists (national and local administrations, administrators of electricity networks, etc.).
One can also think that the "Territory management " issue, which surrounds the development of the wind energy, is partially bound to this situation.
What would be serious, it is that the political willingness can weaken.
We can particularly notice the permanent questioning position of the regulator (the commission of Regulation of the Energy) against the principle of the feed in tariff. Although the opinions motivated on such a mechanism set up by the legislator do not raise his competence.
Besides, we can find out in the local or national press declarations against feed in tariff applied to the renewable energies, or more specifically applied in wind energy field.
Finally, the extremely long time process to elaborate and publish the circular sent to regional authority (dated September 24, 2003) while its contents were known there for several months, revealed certain lack of attentiveness for the wind energy. It was all the more harmful as it led to numerous locking situations king on the field during this period of expectation.
2. Mechanisms of compensation
The experience acquired through EOLE 2005 programme, based on periodic invitations to tender, led to two major facts:
- The assertion in the law of February 10, 2000 of the relevance and the legitimacy of the mechanisms of compensation in favour of the renewable energies facing the general interest,
- The choice of a mechanism that gave evidences of its efficiency with lesser cost, namely the feed in tariff.
The levels and the implementation method of the feed in tariff representing by the law of June 8, 2001 is widely inspired by the German model (law EEG of March, 2000), Whether it is not the case for all the renewable energies, the specific tariff for wind energy were considered globally satisfactory by the national and European operators of the sector.
The internal return rate implicitly guaranteed, the duration of the electricity sale contract to EDF ( 15 years) and the indexation on the annual inflation for the current contracts constitute the most positive elements.
These fundamentally positive elements should not however hide two major shortcomings underlined from the very beginning by the professional organisations of the sector. They were not the objects of necessary modifications yet to perfect the system.
The first one is the limitation of the feed in tariff until 12 MW installed. This criterion is unfounded and totally specific arrangement in France. It highly penalises a lot of project. Moreover this constraint has been strengthen by the introduction of a minimal distance of 1500 metres between two installations (Law N 2003-590 of July 2,).
The second one is the automatic mechanism of decreasing feed in tariff for the new contracts at the 3,3 % rate every year. This constraint is particularly excessive considering the necessary duration for obtaining of all the licenses, which is particularly long in France (4 - 5 years versus 2 to 3 years in most of the other European countries). This rate considered originally acceptable by professional organisations has finally revealed strongly penalising, making necessary its revision as soon as possible.
3. Grid connection
After a first period of several half-year characterised by a lack of rules leaving a discretionary power to the administrators of electricity networks implying additional costs and delays rarely justified, the Regulator ( CRE) finally lay down the implementation of a dialogue procedure between the network company and wind energy producers.
This dialogue allowed to clarify some rules, notably by organising the connecting demands queue according to objective and indisputable criteria such as the notification of the building licence instruction period by the regional authority.
Also, a set of rule involving costs sharing, as well as a works associated costs nomenclature allowed to the producers to precisely estimate constraints with which they face.
But it remains a lot to do in this particularly delicate and sensitive domain for the wind energy operators. It would be necessary to establish clear legal bases notably concerning:
- The rules of costs sharing in the frame of extension and enforcement networks according to objective criteria allowing joining the wind energy general interest and the economic aptness of the works possibly necessary.
- The superiority of the obligation of result versus means obligation for the choice of the architectures and technical component necessary to secure installations of production and networks
- The possibility of stake in competition various electrical companies, so as to limit the perverse effects of the current situation of monopoly, which does not justify itself on this segment of activity.
- The rules of priority of access for the evacuation of the electricity produced by the various sources, which owe to be coherent to base itself on two simple principles:
--- priority in the renewable energies on all the others (principle of lesser environmental impact),
--- priority to sources least storages among the renewable energies (for example priority in the solar energy and in the wind energy on the hydraulics, or of the hydraulics on the biomass).
4. Administrative procedures
For lack of a real simplification of the administrative procedures regarding wind energy projects, praise worthy efforts of legal and regulatory clarification were realised since the founder legislative act whom constituted the law of February 10, 2000.
These efforts, enforced by the publishing of the September 24, 2003 decree, were regularly discussed by inconvenient initiatives at the legal and administrative levels which made lose a precious time and especially gave contradictory signals to the field operators, in particular developers and local authorities.
Following this first exercise, it still remains a lot to do to reach comprehensive frame allowing the harmonious development of the wind energy in France and regarding disposal of the article 6 of the Directive 2001-77, which deserves to be reminded in its entirety:
1. Member States or the competent bodies appointed by the Member States shall evaluate the existing legislative and regulatory framework with regard to authorisation procedures or the other procedures laid down in Article 4 of Directive 96/92/EC, which are applicable to production plants for electricity produced form renewable energy sources, with a view to:
- reducing the regulatory and non-regulatory barriers to the increase in electricity production from renewable energy sources,
- streamlining and expediting procedures at the appropriate administrative level, and
- ensuring that the rules are objective, transparent and non-discriminatory, and take fully into account the particularities of the various renewable energy source technologies.
2. Member States shall publish, not later than 27 October 2003, a report on the evaluation referred to in paragraph 1, indicating, where appropriate, the actions taken. The purpose of this report is to provide, where this is appropriate in the context of nation legislation, an indication of the stage reached specifically in :
- coordination between the different administrative bodies as regards deadlines, reception and treatment of applications for authorisations,
- drawing up possible guidelines for the activities referred to in paragraph 1, and the feasibility of a fast-track planning procedure for producers of electricity from renewable energy sources, and
- the designation of authorities to act as mediators in disputes between authorities responsible for issuing authorisations and applicants for authorisations.
3. The Commission shall, in the report referred to in Article 8 and on the basis of the Member States reports referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article, assess best practices with a view to achieving the objectives referred to in paragraph 1.
The report foreseen by the item ( 2 ) has apparently not been issued in the date foreseen of October 27, 2003, or later. Beyond the legal obligations which should be respect by the French State, concrete actions could be quickly launched in the perspective of the implementation of the " unique authority », which is not considered regrettably officially as an objective to achieve.
It must be mentioned that ADEME undertook an important action since the beginning of 2003 in the field of training and sensitisation of the State agents allocated to the file instruction.
5. Local taxes
The EPCI (public Establishment of intermunicipal cooperation) which become widespread gradually on the national territory created a new principle of distribution of local tax ( TP), one called unique tax ( TPU), or in certain cases, tax based on specific areas ( TPZ).
When TP is municipal, it creates happy but also disappointed, nearby municipalities which collect nothing in spite of sometimes the visual presence of wind machines.
Inter municipal tax ( TPU) may also generate conflicts because the profit of this tax bound to the installation of wind machines on a municipality or nearby municipalities is then diluted within the intermunicipal structure, what is not still received as a fair dividing up by the directly concerned elected members.
Some elected members become so reluctant to support projects that could be developed on their municipality.
TP's partial exemption which was established by the State with the aim of supporting investments in the renewable energies reduces moreover of so much the TP collected by the municipalities more concerned by the projects. Curiously indeed, the compensation by the State, which is used for certain investment, was not foreseen for the wind energy.
The repayment by the State of this compensation would probably facilitate the complex negotiations in that are engaged local elected members around the hard question of the fiscal distribution bound to the wind energy.
A revision of the principles and the methodology of calculation of the specific renewable energies local tax system would be conveniently undertaken.
6. The « Spatial Planning »
The new tariff system had the effect to attract new operators on the French market, European mainly, and we can check an important projects development increasing.
Sites identification made by the operators, at the municipal level, does not generally take into account current wind projects developments the surrounding sector in particular in the visual sphere of influence of these projects.
On some territories open to the wind energy development, the territorial lack of coherence of the projects can imply anxieties on behalf of the inhabitants who are afraid of " seeing wind machines everywhere ", and conflicts with elected members, who are under the pressure of local population and, and State services in charge of instruction of building licences.
Several methods aiming at establishing a spatial coherence were led these last months.
At the regional level, at instigation of the State, ADEME and Regional councils, local potential mapping were elaborated. Without putting in evidence precise areas of implementation, the method allows to establish sensibility areas in regard of wind resource theoretical potential.
Certain departments also led similar methods. It is the case of Brittany that elaborated a wind charter that puts in evidence different sensibility areas. These charters are accompanied with recommendations to the operators.
The objective is to avoid that operators develop projects dedicated to the failure in some geographical areas.
These actions of spatial planning in the regional and local scale allow to define a good approach of the project development but the intermunicipal level should be also privileged. The territorial action is in full evolution: intensification of the municipalities grouping, new urbanism directives, revision of town planning, the whole support by a sustainable development strategy. In this context, the local elected members will have in heart to bend over the place of the wind energy within their territories and it in a coherent scale.
In certain sensitive or strongly prospect sectors this forward-looking method constitutes probably the best means to anticipate the social tensions and to secure the future projects.
It is essential that these intermunicipal analyses, tested successfully by certain local governments, can be accompanied with dialogue methods joining the civil society and State services. The already locally present operators should be naturally consulted.
According to the size of the territory, the use of geographic information system constitutes a precious tool for the analysis and an excellent support for the dialogue.
Once the implementation potential areas defined further to successive extraction of the technical and various constraints, environmental mainly, the intervention of a landscape expert allows to put in evidence the relations of sites with the existing landscaped structures and the visual relations of sites among them. It is clear that the visual sphere of influence of wind machines does not generally stop in the limits of the concerned municipality.
In the term of method, the community elected members should validate the zoning established by the workgroup, within which the services of the State may express their recommendations.
This spatial planning method is sometimes badly understood by the operators who are afraid of seeing the sites that they study to be excluded from the final plan. Again, the operators should be associated to these reflections.
The association of State services, which does not naturally avoid impact study, allows to anticipate some problems which could appear later at the time of building license instruction. The risk inherent to the acquisition rights such as building licence is there logically decreased, without being totally absent. These joint territorial reflections can also reduce the risk of the local investors who would wish to finance the phase of development.
ADEME elaborated on these problems a very complete guide who can be downloaded on his Internet site to www.ademe.fr: " social and territorial guide of insertion of the wind projects ".
7. The communication (information, consultation, dialogue)
Forgotten by the initiators of support mechanisms, the question of the social acceptance of the projects demonstrates on the field one of the most delicate questions to deal by the operators.
The conflicts often find their origin in the absence or deficiency of communication from operator towards the local actors.
The implementation of communication actions is essential during the development of the projects.
The wind projects do not miss to raise numerous issues. In the absence of fast answers, a feeling anxiety can naturally settle down at the most concerned person, notably the local residents and association of environmental protection.
If these anxieties continue, the risk of seeing the concerned actors sliding towards opposition is then very important. When the conflict settled down, it is often very difficult to master it.
Every conflict is particular. Some opponents, or opponents' networks, are set on principle against the wind energy and the margin to progress is very narrow in that case. It is anyway imaginary to find a general consensus on the conditions of an infrastructure project realisation.
To communicate, it is to anticipate the tensions and to create the conditions of progressive appropriation of the projects by the local actors.
II. How and why to encourage local financing of wind energy
The installation of modern wind turbines in a given area is not a neutral act of development.
One major reason is the fact that these large machines cause an obvious change in the visual space in which they are installed.
As has been shown countless times by our German and Danish neighbours, a projects success depends on its social integration, or in other terms, its degree of appropriation.
While the formulation of an effective communication strategy with local actors is essential, the financial participation of local actors in the project is a key factor in acceptance. It represents the highest level of local involvement as it entails a very concrete commitment to sustainable development on the part of the community. While it is not always possible, it should always be considered highly desirable and thus systematically envisaged.
It also seems quite logical that the people who will be residing long-term near wind turbines should be able, should they so wish, to profit from them by receiving some sort of compensation.
It should also be noted that a wind park represents economic activity that generates wealth from a local resource - wind - which belongs not only to the owners of the land that is best suited to the installation of turbines, but to the entire human community living in the area.
This is the starting premise of the WELFI project. Local investment is an important strategic issue for the sustained and harmonious development of wind energy projects in France.
In some remote rural areas, wind energy provides a rare means of stemming economic decline and rural exodus by providing an opportunity for steady, sustainable economic development. Because of these technical and economic characteristics, wind energy could also represent a credible and safe means by which to complement current retirement fund systems.
There are several possible ways in which the community (private individuals, farmers, local companies, etc.) can participate financially:
1- Development is partly or fully funded by local investors who also provide (in part or in full) the equity capital necessary for total general funding.
By participating in the development phase, local investors carry the inherent risk of rights acquisition, particularly the obtaining of construction permits. In return for carrying this risk burden, their profit margin is higher, as is the case for traditional wind energy developers.
Through informal regional networks, groups of private individuals form investment structures, which are generally SAS (flexible limited liability companies) or SA (public companies), and together they amass the funds necessary for the project. In some cases, these companies wish to be even more deeply involved and participate in the financing of the projects development phase as well.
In this case, it cannot be emphasised strongly enough how important it is that local project stakeholders call upon the services of appropriate, skilled professionals to work with them on the project.
2- Financing by local actors can also occur only after the rights have been acquired by a developer who wants citizen financial participation to form part of the equity capital. In this case, the risk taken by local investors is considerably reduced, and of course the profit margin is lowered accordingly.
This will probably be the most common scenario in the future, as to date the vast majority of sites have been developed by operators specialised in wind energy.
Local investment in wind energy will develop if the operators who are already established in a given area accept the idea of making their company public, and indeed plan to do so.
3- Finally, in addition to this strictly local investment (within the area directly concerned by the project), there is the possibility of investment by private individuals who do not live near the site of the installation, but who wish to financially participate in a sustainable development project. This is what is known as citizen investment (a term that also covers local investment).
This citizen involvement can enable developers to amass the equity capital necessary to finance projects, once the rights have been acquired.
B. Constraints and solutions
1 - Introduction
In France, there are only a few current examples of projects whose equity capital comes partly or totally from private individuals or local companies.
Clearly, some developers are unwilling or unable to work with this type of structure.
This is particularly the case when they are relying on investment companies or directly on industrial firms in the sector. The latter two generally wish to limit the number of investors on a project for reasons to do with company politics, profitability or the perceived difficulties of managing of a large number of investors.
In this case, local financing is never proposed as an option. In any event it is only made possible if the project developer and his partners are favourable to it and express this during the development phase.
Nevertheless, it is very encouraging to note that many operators are now aware of this approach and are very interested by it. The idea that the safety of their investment is partly linked to the degree of the local ownership of projects is well established in this case (see the proceedings of the European WELFI Conference, www.welfi.info).
Ownership, acceptance and economic opportunity: these complementary parameters should incite site developers systematically to consider the possibilities of getting local communities to participate financially in the expected benefits of the production of wind electricity. Yet those who do so remain rare.
An analysis of the wind energy development context in France in the last few years can shed some light on this situation.
Since the publication of the new tariff system in June 2001, development companies have invested greatly heavily in developing a large number of wind energy sites. Many are now facing great difficulty in obtaining construction permits, acquiring all the necessary rights and thus being able to sell their projects as turnkey projects.
Therefore as soon as they get a permit, they have one single aim: the quick sale of the project to reduce their debt level.
The administrative constraints, the reticence of relevant authorities and prefects faced with an increasing number of projects and local opposition prevail, imposing this financial logic on developers.
Reducing the many difficulties faced by operators is crucial to enable them to consider and concretely envisage citizen financial participation.
In addition to this problematic national context, wind energy developers at all levels (local, national or international) are also faced with a number of constraints that do not facilitate the mobilisation of citizen funding.
We highlight the following points:
- The regulation of fund collection;
- Financial tools;
- The legal status of companies; and
- Promotion to the potential actors involved.
2 - The regulation of fund collection
From this point of view, France stands out from the rest of Europe because of its extremely rigorous regulations, which are generally poorly adapted to modest-sized projects, and particularly local initiatives.
Unlike most other European countries, initial public offerings are strongly regulated in France, as it is necessary to obtain a permit beforehand from the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF, Financial Market Authority, formerly COB) in order to legally contact more than 100 people through advertising. Action taken without this permit is subject to serious sanctions.
This type of regulation also exists in the United Kingdom and Germany, but it is more flexible and better adapted there.
Developers who wish to mobilise citizen investors in France through an initial public offering are forced to first undertake a long, bureaucratic and relatively costly authorisation procedure.
Jan Poppe, representative of the Belgian TRIODOS Bank at the WELFI Conference, pointed out that it was very difficult to envisage undertaking such procedures for projects under 12 MW.
Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind that these regulations are in place to protect small savers from dangerous or dishonest propositions that might lead them to lose their savings, which is perfectly commendable and respectable.
In the context of wind energy, the implementation of the obligation to buy and related tariffs is a response to the goal of guaranteeing a reasonable profit rate to investors, allowing them to secure their investments over the 15-year period of the EDF electricity sale contract once the technical plans have been properly drawn up.
Thus we can consider that current regulations effectively place wind energy investment among the dependable, reliable family of investments, that is, low-risk and reasonably profitable.
This is also perfectly backed up by Danish and German experiences, which have enabled the very large-scale development of a direct popular shareholder base with no major disadvantages.
Therefore the current protection offered by the framework of initial public offerings seems senselessly penalising for the wind energy sector, at least as far as the current procedures are concerned.
A softening of the rules and the simplification of the paperwork entailed would certainly be a positive move forward. Furthermore, the paperwork is directly examined by the services of the AMF in Paris. In Germany, documents on calls for the public financing of wind energy projects are approved by certified accountants who can be consulted in the relevant regions (Lander).
Aside from the initial public offering, there are other ways of mobilising local financial participation, but they must be carried out entirely without advertising, relying solely on informal local networks. This is only possible if the developer very early on expresses the wish to make the investing company public to local actors. This would entail a longer phase of actor coordination, requiring a significant on-site presence.
3 - Financial tools
In addition to the fact that there is no tradition of local financing of economic projects, and the restrictive regulations governing the collection of funds, there is a clear lack of financial tools that banking establishments or related bodies might offer for fund collection and for assistance in setting up and carrying out projects that call for citizen investment.
These services are particularly well developed in Denmark and Germany.
The setting up of FIP (local investment funds) that might constitute an effective and safe way of mobilising regional or interregional - savings, must be followed closely.
4 - The legal status of companies
Among the range of company statuses that exist in French law, none seems obviously suited to the local financing of wind energy.
There are several possible solutions, but they depend on the context, the actors involved and the wishes of all concerned.
Local actors who want to develop projects or professional developers who are considering calling on popular savings often express a need for specialised and easily accessible legal advice.
5- Promotion to the potential actors involved
The contribution of local financing to the setting up and permanent installation of wind energy projects will develop if traditional promoters and investors in particular are made aware of the many advantages that this approach can offer.
Nevertheless, increased awareness among developers alone will not suffice.
Awareness must also be raised among public authorities in order to ensure political support at the local, county and regional levels, as this is essential to successful citizen mobilisation.
The taking up of this issue by local officials is likely to provide them with the raw material and the operational means to set up an aggressive strategy linking economic development projects and active citizen participation with the fight against major environmental threats.
The local banking sector should be both a target and a main means of disseminating information on local financing. The considerable networks of banks within areas also provide a mine of potential financial intermediaries.
The setting up of consulting structures (legal, financial, communication, etc.) for the parties involved could foster the growth of emerging projects.
Espaces Infos Energies (EIE) can play an important role as providers of information to the general public on the possibilities of financial involvement in wind energy projects.
Finally, the essential factor in the promotion of citizen investment is certainly national political commitment in favour of wind energy relayed by public authorities. This is an indispensable factor to enable the evolutions and adaptations presented here in favour of local investment.
The terrestrial development of wind energy without local investment is a possibility that would probably be very difficult, and there are many other activities besides wind energy that could attract local investment. Nevertheless, wind energy and local investment provide an extraordinary opportunity for local, sustainable development. It would be a shame not to take advantage of it.
The WELFI CD-ROM will contribute to the promotion of this opportunity, and provide an additional knowledge base.
It should be noted that the Comité de Liaison Energies Renouvelables (Liaison Committee on Renewable Energy) has put out a number of publications on the subject, available at the Internet address: www.cler.org/predac/wp1.
Some organisations, such as BASE (Basel Agency for Sustainable Energy) are working towards putting investors and project managers in touch.
Finally, the ADEME, which has shown strong commitment in the recent local investment promotion initiatives, is an invaluable catalyst in the definition of future actions to take in this field.