The European Investment Bank (EIB), BPCE Group and Crédit Agricole's Caisses régionales, as well as Crédit Agricole Leasing & Factoring, have announced that they will be lending EUR 250m to develop biomass-fed energy schemes and enhanced waste recycling and recovery in France. The financing agreement was signed on Friday 21 March 2014 in Paris by EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive, Roland Charbonnel (BPCE Group Director for Funding and Investor Relations) and Xavier Malherbet (Head of Trade and Tenders within Crédit Agricole SA's Regional Bank Department), in the presence of Sébastien Chapelet (Managing Director of the local municipality association for waste disposal and enhanced recovery SYndicat Mixte d’Elimination et de VAlorisation des Déchets (SYMEVAD)) and Bernard Duparay (President of SMET71).

This financing agreement is crucially important for the development of renewable energy in France. It will make it possible to enhance the value of forest or agriculture-based biomass by using it, together with household and similar waste, to generate electricity, biogas and heat in France. Thus new biomass-fired schemes will be financed throughout France, including heat-only and combined heat and power cogeneration plants, as well as facilities for treating household and similar waste to generate biogas and electricity. The agreement will also make it possible to support work on renovating and extending urban heating systems, with the twofold objective of improving energy performance and efficiency. Those living in the areas concerned will be the prime beneficiaries.

Under this agreement two projects have already been identified as eligible for financing in 2014: SMET 71's sorting, methanisation and composting operation and SYMEVAD's materials and energy recovery operation. The support provided for the SMET 71 project will enable a sorting, methanisation and composting plant to be built that will treat around 73 000 tonnes of waste a year produced in the eastern basin of the département of Saône-et-Loire. The materials and energy recovery operation will involve the construction of a plant with a total capacity of 100 000 t/year for treating residual household waste generated in the conurbations of Hénin-Carvin, Osartis and Douaisis.

The signing of this agreement, which demonstrates the EIB's strong commitment to the key sector of biomass and combined heat and power facilities in France, is fully in keeping with the European Union's 2020 Strategy, which is aimed at developing secure, competitive and sustainable energy supplies and also contributes to the EU objectives of sustainable growth and job creation.

In 2013 the EIB provided EUR 19bn, i.e. 26% of its total lending, for climate action to support solutions that use fewer resources and are more resilient to climate change. France is one of the first countries to benefit from this effort, with just over EUR 1bn in new finance in this field in 2013. An effort that is being actively pursued in 2014.