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Technology platforms

Energy efficiency and energy sustainability

La Cité des Energies

Cite-des-energiesCopyright CEA Cadarache

La Cité des Energies was created at the CEA Cadarache site in 2011, to bring together, under one roof, experts from education, research and industry and to create a leading alternative energy development cluster.

La Cité des Energies aims to make local firms in the energy efficiency and renewables sectors more competitive. The cluster offers the very best conditions to promote technology transfer to local SMEs and to help them grow, in the following areas:

  • performance of solar demonstrators and thermal or electric Smart Grids
  • energy production and efficiency for Mediterranean buildings
  • research into biofuels from microalgae and development of biorefinery research
  • future greenhouses and microbial fuel cells.

La Cité des Energies showcases cutting-edge technologies via a series of platforms, demonstrators and laboratories. It includes industrial pilot-scale solar power plants (MEGASOL) and other lower-power platforms (less than 1 MW). Manufacturers can access experimental positive-energy “buildings” adapted to suit the Mediterranean climate, where they can test innovative components or systems before taking them to market. The cluster’s teams are also working on the Heliobiotec biofuels platform and industrial development of the associated process, known as Hélioprocess.

The Capenergies cluster, a partner of La Cité des Energies from the outset, has certified a number of projects at the site, including a large solar power plant, a biomass platform, and building energy efficiency and renovation demonstrators. Capenergies is helping the platform to deliver on its strategy. It has a budget of €6.5 million, a community of 30 industrial partners, including 27 SMEs and mid-sized firms (some of which are cluster members), and around 30 ongoing R&D contracts.

Smart City

Smart City Innovation Center


Photo credit: A. Macarri, DSD, UNS Communications Department

A joint initiative by Métropole Nice-Côte d’Azur and the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, the Smart City Innovation Center (SCIC) is the only joint technology platform of its kind in France – a site dedicated to innovation and economic development in smart, sustainable and connected cities. The 300 m2 showroom is housed at the Mediterranean Institute for Risk, Environment and Sustainable Development (IMREDD), in the heart of the Eco-Vallée. It is a coming-together of the worlds of research and education (University of Nice Sophia Antipolis) and leading smart city innovators (Veolia, IBM, m2ocity, Orange, ERDF, EDF) – with the backing of Métropole Nice-Côte d’Azur. The aim is to foster synergies on projects focusing on four major Smart City themes: energy, environment, risks and mobility. The SCIC is the first initiative of its type where experts can pool their knowledge and data under one roof, helping provide opportunities to experiment with new uses and services. Sensors installed throughout the conurbation will measure a range of parameters, including air quality, rainfall, road traffic movement, noise pollution, and energy consumption by individuals and businesses that have signed up voluntarily to the Nice Grid smart solar district, feeding the data back to the platform. The collected data will be displayed, in real time, at the Smart City Innovation Center, providing possibilities for wide-scale city control and management. The SCIC will be open to all comers (students, start-ups, researchers and members of the public) – a place where people can come to learn more about the smart city of tomorrow. Capenergies, as an IMREDD partner, is working with its members involved in the SCIC on Métropole Nice-Côte d’Azur projects, including two Smart Grids industrial plan projects – Smart Campus Nice Sophia Antipolis and FLEXGRID, both of which involve full-scale deployment of Smart Grids.




Engineering and advanced processes for complex system prototyping

The Inovsys Shared Innovation Platform works to make the PACA region’s mechanics sector more competitive. This platform provides businesses with its partners’ cutting-edge expertise and facilities, helping them develop innovative solutions for mechanics projects.

Inovsys is intended primarily for subcontractors in the aerospace, naval, nuclear and wind power sectors, medical-industry small businesses and SMEs, and any other company that develops material and process technologies. It is a dedicated place for manufacturers, researchers and educators to pool their expertise and for businesses to keep up to date with the latest technologies in key disciplines. It focuses on four areas: product design and improvement, manufacturing process optimisation, prototype production, and new technology acquisition. The platform is backed by major shareholders – Airbus Helicopters, EDF, Arts et Métiers ParisTech, University of Aix-Marseille, Centrale Marseille, CEMEF, UIMM, Caisse des Dépôts, ONET, Bonnans, Solution F, One Too and ICT IMM – and has an extensive network of partners with leading expertise and innovative facilities. Inovsys is also fully integrated into the Henri Fabre project’s Mechanics, Materials and Processes cluster, which seeks to coordinate, organise, promote and boost industrial performance across the region, liaising with major buyers and suppliers. Capenergies has been involved with the platform from the outset and gives its members insider access to Inovsys’ extensive expertise.

Photovoltaics and storage


Renewable Hydrogen Mission for Integration into the Electric Grid


Photo credit: University of Corsica/CNRS – Corse Aéro Visio – Sébastien Aude

Secure energy supply is one of the key challenges facing islands and remote areas – a challenge that renewables can help address. However, because these grids are not linked up to continental grids, incorporating sporadic energy sources can pose more of a challenge. This is the issue that MYRTE – a research and development platform at Vignola, Corsica – seeks to tackle. The platform aims to capture solar power via a photovoltaic power plant and store the sporadic energy produced as hydrogen, which can then be fed back into the grid when needed.

The energy produced by the solar panels powers a water electrolysis system, which separates the water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then stored and is channelled to a fuel cell with power in excess of 100 kW, for subsequent feeding back into the grid at the desired point in time. This joint project, run by the University of Corsica, AREVA and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), is certified by the Capenergies competitiveness cluster and funded by the Corsican authorities, the French government and the European Union. As a hotbed of research and experimental activity, the platform will help develop a hydrogen-based electricity storage solution and a strategy to improve grid management and stability. The ultimate aim is to develop a marketable energy chain