The french industrial sector in transition

Updated 02/14/2018

At a time when reducing energy consumption and improving energy efficiency seem to be essential to the development of a sustainable and competitive industry, electrical load management has emerged as a promising solution.

Today, industry is responsible for a quarter of all energy consumption and a third of all electricity consumption in France.

Consequences range from harmful greenhouse gas emissions to a high rate of energy dependence. In spite of recent progress, ADEME research has shown that the industrial sector can improve its energy efficiency by 20% on average by 2035.

A third of these energy savings should be the result of a number of innovations currently in development.


Innovation : the key to energy performance

"The reduction of energy consumption in the industrial sector owes a lot to technological innovations that have helped improve energy efficiency", explained Frederic Streiff, an industrial energy efficiency engineer for the Businesses and Industrial Dynamics department at ADEME. This is why it is important to support businesses that offer more energy efficient technologies and solutions in order to increase their efforts when it comes to innovation, and find the French and export markets necessary for the development of their activities.

Moreover, ADEME aims to encourage the acceleration of the energy transition at the heart of industrial sites via a number of actions that ange from the training of industry energy referents to investment support, namely through the Heat fund to support research into the potential use of waste heat and the development of renewable thermal energy production. The Agency also publishes technical guides to help industrial businesses improve the management of their energy consumption.

Load management : an increasingly popular option

Other more recent dynamics have proved particularly promising. For example, the increasing use of load management mechanisms that consist in temporarily reducing the electricity distribution from a site by modulating or interrupting the process. "The aim of such procedures is not exactly to save energy but rather to consume it at the right moment in order to bring more flexibility to an electrical grid experiencing many periods of peak demand, as well as variability in production from renewable energies", explained Marion Bertholon, Smart Grid Engineer at the Networks and Renewable Energy department of ADEME.
Besides, industry professionals also benefit from this process. Indeed, "the remuneration of the availability and of the mobilization of their abilities represents an opportunity to improve productivity", continued Marion Bertholon.

In their study "L’effacement de consommation électrique en France" (Electrical load management in France), published in September 2017, ADEME had assessed the profitable technical potential of different economic sectors of industry and large-scale retail, and identified the obstacles and assets linked to this activity. They found that 70% of this potential lies in industry and is particularly concentrated in four sectors (metallurgy, mechanics, chemistry and the paper industry). Electrical load management thus clearly has a lot of potential for the industrial sector ; the tertiary sectors studied have more limited – and diffused – potential (smaller sites). Moreover, ADEME has shown that there are few technical barriers to the development of this type of flexibility. The main obstacles are of a more economic and organizational nature, as businesses have to agree to adapt their production processes... to avoid producing.