French Waste-to-Energy Market Report

The French Waste-to-Energy (WTE) market is a mature, developed
market, which experienced rapid growth in the early 2000s due to
new construction, upgrades and refurbishing of large plants. The
market, valued at approximately USD 150 million, is expected to
grow at a more tempered pace over the next 5-10 years with a focus
on small and medium-sized plants in less densely populated regions.
The WTE industry treats over 12 million tons of municipal solid
waste (MSW) and related waste annually and generates more than
10,000 GWh of energy per annum.

The Grenelle Act, France’s overarching vision for environmental
policy, in addition to current EU environmental legislation and
directives, is expected to drive this market in the near term.
While the market is highly concentrated and dominated by French
industry, some niche opportunities may exist. These include energy
efficiency, NOx reduction and treatment, ISO 14001 and EMAS
certification and technology for small cost-effective
waste-to-energy plants and heat transfer and transportation.

Market Demand

Over the past few years the market has slowed considerably due to
the increased costs to build WTE plants, the strong presence of
low-cost nuclear energy and an incomplete waste management policy.
Currently, landfilling with pre-treatment has become a temporary
solution until the WTE policy can be clarified, which has put the
market at a standstill. Furthermore, government policy is driving
the market towards waste reduction, waste reutilization, recycling
and composting and away from incineration and landfill. The French
Pollution Tax (TGAP - Taxe Générale sur les Activités Polluantes)
for incineration has made incineration and landfilling at least as
costly as alternative waste treatment approaches.

At the same time the TGAP has created incentives for more flexible
WTE cogeneration plants (electricity and heat) via tax deductions
per ton of waste treated. Consequently, according to industry
officials, WTE generation from incineration could double by the
year 2020 without increasing the amount of waste treated. In
addition, the national renewable energy plan, which includes WTE
incinerators, will provide up to 60% financing for investment for
grid hookup and additional financing for thermal energy production
for 5 years. This taken together should stimulate the market in the
medium- to long-term.

Three major WTE incineration plant construction contracts have
recently been awarded, which include the Clermont-Ferrand site for
300,000 tons of waste per year; the Saint-Thomé site for 100,000
tons per year; and the Marseille site for 150,000 tons per year.
Given that contracts and construction for most of the large WTE
plants have been completed, market demand is expected to come from
the small to mid-sized plants (80,000-100,000 tons per year).

Market Data

The overall market for solid waste management in France, which
includes WTE incineration, is valued at approximately 5 billion
euros and treats over 47.5 million tons of waste per year. There
are approximately 120 WTE plants that treat over 12 million tons of
MSW and related waste annually and generate more than 10,000 GWh of
energy per annum.

The market for WTE plant construction can vary widely from
year-to-year due to the long sales cycle and high capital
investment costs, but is valued at approximately 150 million euros.
Future orders are expected to increase the market size in the next
couple of years.

Best Prospects

Over the past several years industry has focused on supplying
the large WTE incineration plant market. However, the need to treat
waste in smaller cities and less densely populated communities in
France has driven demand for small to medium-sized WTE incineration
plants (80,000 to 100,000 tons of waste per annum).4 Government
policy is also creating opportunities for the market. Policies have
placed greater emphasis on waste reduction, reutilization and
recycling, which should reduce the amount of waste available for
incineration. In addition, the French Pollution Tax for
Incineration (TGAP) and the National Renewable Energy Plan have
created incentives for incineration plant operators to increase
energy output. This includes thermal energy production and
electricity generation.

Therefore, services, processes and technologies in energy
efficiency for increased energy production and heat transportation
are expected to be in big demand in the near future. Moreover,
these TGAP tax incentives are also increasing demand for ISO 14001
and EMAS certification as well as cost-effective NOx reduction and
treatment technologies. The emphasis on small to mid-sized plants
will also create some technical challenges, given minimum economies
of scale required to produce energy efficiently. One of the major
problems has been the malfunctioning of the turbo alternator due to
lower quantities of waste and hence, steam. Therefore, turbo
alternators designed and built to operate efficiently with smaller
quantities of steam will also be in big demand

Market Entry

Due to a long-standing tradition in environmental waste management,
utility, engineering and centralized government planning, France
has developed highly integrated total management processes. The
result has been a handful of major environmental, utility and
engineering firms that play a major role in design, capacity,
technology choice and ultimately the future direction of this
industry. This has also created a highly integrated ecosystem in
which companies compete for some projects and collaborate on

Hence end-users, suppliers and subcontractors may compete,
collaborate and form joint-ventures depending on the project.
Consequently, companies interested in entering this market will
have to have a flexible business model that enable them to compete
with, supply to and purchase from other firms present in the
market. Moreover, given that the majority of the companies are
French, a strong French culture is present in business transactions
and market development activities.

Therefore, US companies seeking to enter this market will need to
develop a strong local presence with a strong understanding of
French business practices, networks and contacts. On the service
side of the market, engineering, design and MRO companies will need
to be able to respond in French and in real time and be familiar
with local systems, laws and regulations. This could take the form
of an agent, representative, distributor, subsidiary, strategic
alliance, joint-venture or acquisition.


Although no mandatory registration procedures exist, it is highly
advisable that equipment sold in France be tested and approved by
AFNOR, France’s standards agency. U.S. exporters should, therefore,
contact AFNOR to get norms and specifications. Most importers,
agents or distributors should be able to provide information on
certification of products.

Another important accrediting organization is the Laboratoire
National d’Essais (LNE), or National Testing Laboratory, which
issues certifications for various products, materials and
techniques. The LNE can also provide information on recommended

ISO 14000 has become an integral part of doing business in France
and the rest of Europe. In fact, many of the EU environmental
regulations are related to the ISO 14000 norms. Therefore, U.S.
companies that are ISO 14000 certified will generally have an
easier time entering the French and European markets.

Extracts from: French Waste-to-Energy Market, US Commercial


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