FRANCE: New alliance to coordinate energy research

A new energy research organisation has been set up to coordinate and improve efficiency in the sector nationally and to contribute to European research, announced Valérie Pécresse, Minister for Higher Education and Research, and Jean-Louis Borloo, Minister for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea.

They said in a joint statement that ANCRE, the National Alliance for Coordination of Research for Energy, had been created by the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the French Oil Institute.

In addition to the three founding organisations, universities will collaborate in ANCRE's activities, as well as about 10 other public research centres. These include institutes specialising in the environment, nuclear waste, geology and mining, aerospace, agronomy, transport and the sea.

The statement said the alliance would be responsible for drawing up a national energy strategy and developing 'strategic roadmaps' defining each sector's research priorities. It would be involved at all stages "from fundamental research to demonstrations of final industrial applications"; would promote and support "partnerships and synergies" between the participating public research organisations, universities and companies; and "identify the scientific, technological, economic and social obstacles that limit industrial developments in the field of energy".

It also said ANCRE would participate in the work of the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA), which 10 leading European research institutes including the CEA last year announced they would create. EERA's key aim is to speed up development of new energy technologies through joint research programmes in support of the European Union's strategic energy technology plan, by pooling and integrating activities and resources, and combining national and EU funding.

The launch of ANCRE (French for 'anchor') follows Pécresse's presentation last month of national priority areas for research, in which energy featured prominently under 'environmental urgency and ecotechnologies'. She spelt out the need to lower everyday energy consumption, notably in housing and transport, and to aim for an energy future without carbon.

She cited initiatives such as new-generation nuclear power, biofuels, solar energy, power from wind and sea; and development of sustainable, low-energy towns and buildings, electric and hybrid road vehicles, and engineering and new materials to reduce aircraft fuel consumption and noise.