The rise of the "clean tech" is one of the levers of economic growth of tomorrow as a potential driver of output of the current crisis. However, the France does not seem to sufficiently well positioned to take advantage. The ILO / UNEP study (2008) evaluates to 1,370 billion a year market "products and environmental services" and considers that it could double by 2020. However, the Union European, in terms of turnover per capita, if France (780 euros) ranks above average, it is preempted by the Denmark (1.650 euros), Austria (while euros), Netherlands (880 euros) and Germany (810 euros). This overall modest rank is four sets of weaknesses.
First of all, in the "clean tech" the industrial expertise of the France is not optimal. It is, of course, leader on water and waste, with large groups such as Veolia and Suez, but it is in mature sectors, slow-growing (2 to 3 per year in industrialized countries). Conversely, it is little positioned on "new" technologies of the environment, called for much stronger growth prospects (renewable energies, energy storage technologies, or even batteries for clean vehicles...). These channels may represent a global market of more than 350 billion euros in 2020; they represent that France EUR 1.5 billion in 2007. Specifically, one of the major weaknesses of French environmental lies in their specialization in curative technologies and not in preventive technologies the most interesting of the environmental and economic point of view. The European Union prevention investments represent more than a third, and more than 50 in Spain, Sweden, Austria, in Czech Republic... the France spends 90 of its investment in the treatment of pollution, against 10 in the prevention.
A export, two sets of important weaknesses appear. Sectorally, the France is advanced in the provision of environmentally sound technology or studies, the Council and the engineering by the United States, the United Kingdom, the Germany, or even the Netherlands and the Japan. Geographically, the French environmental markets are essentially European. But it's certainly drawn by legislation, but in part mature markets and thus of renewal, more than strong expansion. This double adverse specialization does not allow the France to position themselves on the ascending markets of the "clean tech".
The support of the public authorities is not sufficiently structured. The role of the State is important in the field of the environmental industries, because it is a market-dependent public control and regulatory developments. There is, in General, a fairly net report from a position of leadership at the level of standards for the protection of the environment and the structuring of technologies and innovative players. By contrast, remedial policies often result from imports of foreign technology. Renewable energies are a test case for the France. Moreover, environmental were within the State a too large multiplicity of interlocutors (several branches of the ministries of economy, research, sustainable development, ANR, Ademe, CDC, OSEO, Coface, Ubifrance...). Similarly, public financial support for the "écoPME" seems too dispersed or even targeted non-optimally. Thus, in 2006, for environmental research segment covered by SME, 185 assisted projects, the majority concerned the management of waste and wastewater and curative and not preventive solutions. Conversely, ecodesign, subsector in which the France lags, represented the type of projects the least helped.
Finally, the "écostart-up" French suffer from specific funding difficulties. The investment sector has developed significantly in France recently, to represent in 2007, invested 10 billion raised EUR and EUR 12.5 billion. But the share of the investment capital moving the 'clean tech' remains low. In the United States, the "clean tech" accounted for $ 5.6 billion and 19 of the amount of venture capital invested in 2008. With 120 million euros only the same year, the France was significantly behind, not only within the European Union by the Germany (383 million) and Britain (347 million), but Israel (247 million), India (277 million) and China (430 million) also. French delay appears to be structural.
A genuine industrial strategy should be developed and followed by the France in the matter. It could focus on three main axes.
It should be firstly to develop R & D in sectors with high growth potential in which the France is little present: renewable energy, energy storage, certain techniques of remediation of soils and, in General, preventive technologies.
Develop the venture share devoted to the "écostart-up" is necessary because the characteristics of the "clean tech" industry: intensive capital, slow technological developments and commercialization of products, new markets... A part of the announced state borrowing could be used to create a venture capital fund, leveraged, specialized in "clean tech".
Finally an administrative coordination and a pulse unit appear to be desirable. They could take the form of an inter-ministerial delegation or a Commissioner who would be the "entry point" for environmental industries and propose axes of a strategy in this area. We should act both on demand and supply. On the first, by installing a high visibility to medium and long term, which implies objectives and standards announced has the advance and stability policies. On the second, by helping in the structuring of a supply of production equipment in the areas where the France is not yet outstripped (vehicle décarbonné...) and in those in which a technological leap is possible (photovoltaic sensors with layer thin or integrated in the construction, offshore wind, energy storage materials...). The fact to favour preventive channels must not, so far, lead to abandon some new services or technical solutions on new segments (capture and storage of CO, depollution of soils...), more akin to healing channels but for which both exist important economic markets and environmental needs.