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L’Arbre à Vent and the Eiffel Tower │© JF Deroubaix, courtesy of NewWind

8 French Green Startups To Watch

Picture of Paul McQueen
Paul McQueen
Updated: 27 September 2016
France’s current start-up boom has been well-documented and shows no signs of slowing down, with the world’s largest tech campus for new enterprises opening soon in Paris. Some of the major players in this fertile business environment are clean-technology firms. From the developers of a bioengineered lighting solution to purveyors of a nifty piece of engineering that transforms mobile phones into solar panels, we take a look at the eight most influential green startups from France.

Optimum Tracker

Based in Meyreuil, a town not far from Aix en Provence, the startup Optimum Tracker specialises in the design, production and installation of industrial-scale, photovoltaic power plants. Their technology allows panels to track the sun from dawn till dusk, increasing their output by 30% compared to static models. The company recently won the Grand Prix Growth Companies 2016, a prestigious award from financial and renewable energy experts, and a contract to build Senegal’s largest ever solar plant. The significance of solar energy is ever-growing and Yacin de Welle is confident that his company ‘is positioned as an important contributor to the current global energy transition’.

NewWind

Paris’ NewWind is set to revolutionize wind power. Their Aeroleaf technology generates electricity at wind speeds of just 2 m/s (half the requirement of traditional turbines) and a 63-leaf tree can power 15 street lamps, 1,000 square meters of office space or 83% of a family home, excluding heating. Moreover, it avoids 3.2 tons of CO2 on 2,400 kWh of electricity produced by an oil-fired power station. The beautifully designed trees are also silent and can be installed near buildings. Seven have already been planted at the COP21 conference, in Roland Garros and a Parisian business park. The first commercial trees will be appearing at sites in France, Germany, and Switzerland in November. Technology is in development to make the Aeroleaf suitable for installation on roofs and terraces.

L’Arbre à Vent │© JF Deroubaix, courtesy of NewWind

L’Arbre à Vent │© JF Deroubaix, courtesy of NewWind

Glowee

Artificial lighting accounts for 19% of global electrical consumption and 5% of greenhouse gas emissions. Glowee hopes to eliminate this with one very bright idea – harnessing the power of bioluminescence. Ninety percent of marine organisms can naturally illuminate their environment. By transferring this genetic capability to common non-toxic and non-pathogenic bacteria and inserting them into a suitable habitat, Glowee has created a living light bulb. This self-sufficient system requires no additional materials or energy and the cold light produced means no energy waste or visual pollution. Once expired, the organic material can be disposed of cleanly. Not only will this technology completely rewrite our conception of lighting, it will bring light to millions who are denied access to electricity.

Stimergy

We’ve all felt the burn on our thighs from too many hours spent on our laptops, and the heat generated by computer servers is no less powerful or wasteful. Ingeniously, Stimergy’s digital boiler puts this to good use. By installing mini data centers in apartment buildings, with twenty to several hundred servers, they use their cooling systems to create hot tap water for residents. The system converts more than 90% of the energy consumed by the servers into recoverable heat and operates 24/7. It’s a concept that is economic, ecological and circular.

Stimergy digital boiler and logo │Courtesy of Stimergy

Stimergy digital boiler and logo │Courtesy of Stimergy

Sunpartner Technologies

Sunpartner Technologies‘ master plan is to integrate solar power into almost every aspect of our lives. Their WYSIPS (What You See Is Photovoltaic Surface) products are capable of transforming any surface into a solar panel that can generate electricity from natural or artificial light sources. So, for example, if you found yourself out and about with the battery of your mobile phone flatlining, all you would need to do is leave it, or its cover, in the sun and allow it to recharge. Other incredible innovations include smart windows that take in light during the day and emit it at night and sophisticated panels for cars and planes that could greatly reduce their carbon footprints.

Plume Labs

Air pollution is today’s leading environmental health hazard, killing seven million people globally and costing the French government a staggering 100 billion euros every year. Plume Labs aims to put information in people’s hands that helps them avoid the worst of it. Their Plume Air Report is a free app for iPhone and Android that gives users live updates and predictions on local air pollution levels in more than 300 cities worldwide. All this information is gathered in the Plume Air Cloud, an environmental data set that will hopefully motivate improvements in urban air quality. Development of personal sensors is well underway, which will bolster the Paris startup’s effort to fight air pollution through the democratization of information.

Plume Labs product │ Courtesy of Plume Labs

Plume Labs product │ Courtesy of Plume Labs

ECHY

Shockingly, 90% of electrical lighting is consumed during the day when the sun is shining (and it also accounts for 30% of an average office’s electricity consumption). ECHY are combatting this anomaly. Their technology captures sunlight on the outside of buildings, even on cloudy days, and transfers it indoors using fibre optic cables. Natural light is, of course, far cleaner and has major benefits on health and productivity. The idea for this system dates back to the 1980s but it was only when co-founders Quentin and Florent were working together on a university project that they found a way to make it cost-efficient. Their product is brightening the lives of people in offices, shops, schools and universities, retirement homes, hospitals and museums.

SP3H

SP3H has taken the sensing technology historically applied to industrial refineries and miniaturized it to use in a number of markets, most importantly the car industry. The Near-Infrared technology can analyze the molecular composition of any liquid fuel and produce a profile of its quality, continuously and in real-time. With the support of the European Commission, they have pioneered the I-Fusion project, which is the world’s first fuel smart car with integrated quality sensor technology. Their products not only bring fuel savings to the user but reduced emissions and improved air quality for all.