As is suggested by one of the conclusions of the French Interministerial Mission on the Greenhouse Effect in 2004, the emissions of greenhouse gases cannot be reduced in France without an enormous effort to address energy consumption (energy saving) alongside initiatives to develop renewable forms of energy.
The demand side of the equation (addressing consumption) is discussed in this issue by Véronique Lamblin. On the supply side, in the context of possible shortages in the longer term (probably within a matter of decades) of fossil fuel stocks (mainly hydrocarbons), renewable energy sources are an important option to explore, alongside greater use of nuclear power. Jean-Louis Bal and Bernard Chabot, both specialists in renewables, describe the main features of solar, wave, wind, biomass and geothermal power, their place in the total energy picture, and more specifically in Europe and in France, as well as their prospects for growth in the medium term.
They discuss the contributions of renewables to the production of electricity and heat and as fuel. They then argue that renewables could make up a non-negligible part of energy supplies via quite simple applications in housing and transport, for example. But this, too, would require a certain willingness to intervene on the part of governments. Germany and Japan, for instance, have already invested successfully in this approach, whereas France is lagging behind.