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Industrie — Le 5 October 2017

Energy: shining a spotlight on Grenoble’s talent

The energy sector has always distinguished itself in Grenoble. From smart grids to renewable energy and hydrogen mobility, Grenoble is inventing the energy technology of the future.

Le site Technopole de Schneider Electric inauguré le 12 juillet 2017. © DR

The region of Grenoble continues to excel in the fields of hydroelectric power and renewable energy. From the pioneering spirit of Aristide Bergès (1865-1890) to world leaders such as Schneider Electric and Air Liquide, the region helps push the frontiers of energy technology. In the 1960s, Air Liquide set up its advanced technologies subsidiary in the region and currently employs 800 people. RTE, EDF and Atos Worldgrid have been around for 45 years (600 employees) and are major players in the smart grid industry. Giants such as Alstom Hydro (now called GE Renewable Energy), Siemens, Rolls Royce (specialized in nuclear control and instrumentation systems) and Andritz Hydro (world leader for hydroelectric turbines) have all set up shop in the region.

The Grenoble area has also been the starting point for companies that are now internationally recognized (e.g., Artelia, which specializes in infrastructure engineering and employs 500 people, and Hydrokast, which specializes in accessing confined spaces and employs 200 people). All of the region’s players benefit from a unique ecosystem that combines excellent training programs, the CEA Grenoble’s specialization in new energy technology, and strong support for SMEs and startups. For example, the Tenerrdis cluster was created in 1995 to boost projects tied to the energy transition by supporting collaborative research and the creation of startups.

Current events underline the region’s impact on technology

On July 12, Grenoble welcomed Jean-Pascal Tricoire for the inauguration of Technopole, a site dedicated to promoting Schneider Electric’s know-how in terms of energy performance. “France is at the heart of Schneider, and Grenoble is our masterpiece. We are strengthening our position in Grenoble’s ecosystem, which unites universities, research and industry,” highlighted the CEO of Schneider Electric. Between 2016 and 2019, the group will invest 120 million euros in the Grenoble region thanks to its project GreenOValley. Schneider Electric counts 5,000 employees and five locations.

Its workspaces are showcases for energy efficiency and connected buildings. “Grenoble is at the center of innovation in France and we collaborate directly with Boston and Hong Kong,” added Christelle Heydemann, president of Schneider Electric France. In addition, the group joined forces in 2016 with the Grenoble CCI to create the first European microgrid, which supports education and the development of new energy technology as part of the IMT campus in Grenoble.

Grenoble: the birthplace of hydropower aims to become a world leader !

The Isère region has 38 EDF powerplants and is France’s leading department for hydropower. EDF Hydro employs 1,100 people and its 132 dams supply one third of French hydropower (or enough energy for six million inhabitants). The department is home to Grand’Maison, France’s largest hydroelectric power plant, which produces power equal to two nuclear units. France’s largest hydroelectric construction project is also currently underway. A future cluster dedicated to hydropower will reinforce the region’s reputation for excellence in this field. By 2019, the cluster, which is to be located in Saint-Martin-le-Vinoux, will unite EDF’s teams in Grenoble and create a national training campus for hydroelectric power. “Each year, the campus will welcome 3,500 trainees. The hydroelectric cluster will be spread over 25,000 m2 and is to be EDF’s second largest construction project,” explains Laurent Pérotin, director of the Alps Production Unit.

Europe’s first hydrogen-powered fleet

Hydrogen power is on the forefront of tomorrow's mobility technology. Located in Sassenage, Air Liquide is a primary actor in this evolution as the group helps create vehicles powered by hydrogen batteries and installs hydrogen charging stations (more than 75 stations set up around the world). Actors such as McPhy Energy, Sylfen, Paxitech, Symbio and Axane are also developing this growing industry. Starting in 2015, the Tenerrdis cluster began coordinating the HyWay project which aims to implement Europe’s largest hydrogen-powered fleet (50 vehicles in Grenoble and Lyon).


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