In its Climate and Energy Package, the European Union has committed to increasing the share of renewable energy (hydropower, solar, wind, biomass and geothermal power) to 20% of the energy mix by 2020.
Our Group is playing its part in achieving this objective and the ambition to ensure a diversified energy mix - including 25% renewable energys by 2020 - for the generation of our electricity. It is investing heavily, primarily in hydropower, wind power and solar power, supported by its subsidiary EDF Energies Nouvelles and its major European companies. In 2010, it devoted 33% of investment in the development of the new production technology to renewable energy, equal to the amount invested in new nuclear technology. At every level, from design to factoring in the impact on the environment, we draw on the expertise of our R&D and engineering staff to achieve these aims.
We are also implementing ambitious research programmes to plan for the electricity sources of the future: innovative technologies in the photovoltaic sector ("thin layer" films), marine current power and producing second-generation biofuels by biomass gasification. At Soultz-sous-Forêts, in Alsace, EDF and its German partners worked on the most advanced experimental deep geothermal energy programme in the world, and the plant is now producing electricity.
(Note: hydro generation includes the energy produced by pumping stations)
In 2011, the proportion of electricity and heat generated from renewable sources within the Group decreased by 1.9 points due to the significant drop in hydroelectric generation in France (down 26%).
Nevertheless, the quantity of electricity generated from renewable sources other than hydro continues to improve within the Group (up 13% in 2011), mainly reflecting a 17% increase for EDF Énergies Nouvelles (in solar for the most part) and 6% in Poland (biomass).
In France, we are building up our hydroelectric power assets thanks to the Gavet project (93 MW), which will replace six former plants by a single station on the Romanche River, and modernise the Kembs, Gambsheim and Iffezheim plants on the Rhine. We also launched the first pilot project to construct undersea tidal turbines, off the coast of Paimpol-Bréhat, in Brittany. This tidal turbine farm, which taps into marine current energy, will be connected to the grid and will be in service in 2012. Tests will be conducted this year when the turbines are immersed in the sea.
In Italy, Edison, which operates 68 hydroelectricity stations, has consolidated its commitment to renewable energy. It has signed an agreement with the Italian government to develop 356 MW of capacity from wind systems, 22 MW from solar systems and 31 MW from mini-hydro systems.
In the United Kingdom, EDF Energy, which already operates wind turbines in the northeast, is beginning construction of its first offshore wind farm in Teesside. It will generate capacity of 62 MW and be brought into operation at the end of 2012.
In Poland, we are one of the leaders in the production of biomass energy. The Kogeneracja plant has commissioned a 100% forest biomass boiler and EC Krakow has increased its capacity to burn biomass to 15% in co-combustion with coal at three of its plants. In 2010, the Group's Polish power plants produced 1.3 TWh of electricity by burning 930,000 metric tonnes of biomass, thereby avoiding 1.2 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions.
In Laos, we are the major shareholder (40%) in Nam Theun 2 Power Company, which started operating a 1,070 MW hydroelectric power dam and station in Spring 2010, the first major hydroelectric power project supported by the World Bank since 1999. We were involved in this project as the main investor and turnkey contractor, from design and supplier selection through to construction and operating.
As with any industrial activity, renewables also have an impact on the environment. We factor sustainable development into all our projects from the earliest stages: the choice of location, site coverage, noise and visual impact studies, consultation with local officials and populations. For example, our wind turbines are built away from bird migration routes. And sometimes, we have to change the original choice of location in order to protect a natural area of ecological interest.
If impact studies show the presence of sensitive species in an area, then construction projects are organized outside the nesting periods of certain birds and protective measures and markers are put in place. Once operating is underway, avifauna and botanical monitoring are carried out to check that there is no serious impact on the ecosystems. Our R&D departments have also developed software tools to predict any electromagnetic wave disturbance caused by wind turbines, enabling us to deploy corrective measures and thus prevent interference with TV reception for local residents.
For the construction of the Nam Theun dam in Laos, we set up the largest-scale study on the impact of a hydropower engineering structure on the environment and the population. You can take an interactive tour of this hydropower project, which presents the social and environmental programmes developed.
EDF, Europe' leading hydroelectric power producer, the world's fifth major renewable energy producer (over 25 GW installed at the end of 2010).Between the end of 2009 and the end of 2010, installed photovoltaic power worldwide doubled.
Europe is the world's largest market for wind energy
Taking a closer look