New Renewable Energy Programs in Paris Harness the Power of Water

Paris is typically known by most in the world as an international city of culture and business. However, in more recent years, Paris has come to be known as a city who leads the way in renewable energy policy. Several programs have been put into place across the city that aim to reduce carbon emissions, harness renewable energy to power heating systems, and now the city plans to use the Seine River, which runs through the heart of Paris, to jump start a hydropower program.

The Paris city government has launched a program asking local power companies to develop plants to install eight underwater turbines in the Seine River to generate renewable energy. The plan is to place two turbines each at four spots where various surveys have determined that the current is fastest. Once installed, the government has not yet said exactly what the power generated would be used for, but it is safe to assume it could be integrated into the local power grids in the city proper. Électricité de France, one of the largest power companies in the world, has already announced their interest in participating in the project. The Paris government has said that they are carrying out this plan as part of a larger goal to exploit all of the natural, clean power resources they can from the local area. They are currently planning to have the turbines ready to be placed by spring of 2011.

That timeframe also falls in line with another Paris renewable energy program that involves geothermal power. Sometime last year, Compagnie Parisienne de Chauffage Urbain, or GPCU, began drilling just north of Paris to tap into large underground hot springs. The current project plan is to use the hot water to provide heating and hot water for a new block of apartments that are slated to be finished by 2011. In all, the complex will account for nearly 12,000 apartments and CPCU believes that there are enough resources available to expand the project beyond that district.

Though not directly linked to the city’s renewable energy programs, Paris also has an interesting program currently underway that aims to reduce carbon emissions in the city. Called Vélib’, the service provides bicycles around the city for a small fee  with the idea being that anyone can pay for the bicycle and use it for a set time limit before returning it to Vélib’ station. The program was started to encourage the citizens of Paris to embrace modes of transportation that would reduce carbon emissions and has been expanded several times since it was initiated in 2007. The biggest flaw in the program so far, however, is the incredibly high rates of bicycle thefts and vandalism. The current mayor of Paris has also said that he would like to create a similar program for electric cars, though whether they can succeed in starting that is unknown.

With two major hydropower and geothermal power projects promising to bolster Paris’ renewable energy portfolio by 2011 and several other environmental friendly projects already in place, Paris seems to be on its way. Considering the immense size of the city, however, Paris still has a long way to go before it can cut down on the incredible amounts of damaging emissions the city gives off from various sources daily.

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