CEA Tech Paca: Energy to spare in the south of France

CEA Tech Paca: Energy to spare in the south of France
09 May 2016 / Vous revenez en france, Implantez, Générale, Energies
An innovation platform for businesses in the energy and sustainable development sectors

In Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, CEA Tech Paca is a great setting for experiments. An innovation platform has been developed for businesses in the energy and sustainable development sectors at the Cité des Energies, a project sponsored by CEA Tech. Start-ups and large corporations test their life-size projects in the Mediterranean climate. CEA Tech in PACA has forged fifty or so partnerships since 2013.

The goal is to capitalize on the R&D work done by the French Atomic and alternative energies commission (CEA) while supporting innovative technologies from SMBs to create new opportunities for them and help them set up shop in the Bouches-du-Rhône area. The partnership signed in 2014 between CEA Tech and the economic development agency Provence Promotion to assist innovative companies is starting to bear fruit.

For example, the Breton construction firm Trecobat, which branched into low energy consumption buildings in 2009, is currently using the Cité des Energies in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance to test the prototype of a single-family home designed specifically for the Mediterranean climate that will eventually create value in the PACA region. After collaborating successfully with CEA Tech on cutting-edge technologies in the field of photovoltaic components, SunPartner Technologies has built its first production lines in Rousset.

Drawing on nearly 50 years of experience, CEA Tech comprises three research institutes—LETI, LIST and LITEN (*)—that share their skills as they work with businesses to develop new technology products. The starting cost varies according to the complexity of the research to be conducted. "For four years, we have been working on the regional Mediterranean building strategy to promote efficient construction, as well as micro-algae production and extraction and solar thermal and photovoltaic energy. We are part of the Flexgrid project—the large-scale deployment of smart power grids (*) in the PACA region—whose goal is to create a showcase for French technological know-how in this area.

Proven technology, established company

The partnership between Provence Promotion and the Cité des Energies aims to educate companies about the area’s economic potential to entice them to expand their businesses to Bouches-du-Rhône. "The idea is for Provence Promotion to incorporate the resources of the Cité des Energies and, more broadly, of CEA Tech in its promotional and prospecting activities to make its interlocutors aware of the breadth of R&D partnerships opportunities available to French and foreign companies," explains François Perfezou.

Since its creation in 2013, CEA Tech PACA has forged around 50 partnerships with companies. It has access to nearly 50 experts, approximately 30 of whom are full-time employees. 
"We are unique because our projects are very close to the market. If our R&D work proves viable, it quickly opens up new possibilities for the company, which can then—we hope—generate business and jobs in southern France," concludes François Perfezou, CEA Tech Project Manager for the PACA region.

(*) LETI: Research laboratory specializing in micro- and nanotechnologies and their integration into systems.
LITEN: Research laboratory specialized in new technologies in energy and nanomaterials.
LIST: Research laboratory specializing in intelligent digital systems.
(**) Smart power grids combine energy and digital technologies to promote energy savings. They aim to integrate renewable energies in the electricity network to power electric vehicles and better manage consumption while reducing power bills.

Photo caption: The Trecobat house at the Cité de Energies is testing new materials and devices adapted to the Mediterranean climate.