Academy publications

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French electricity demand - outlook to 2050

In recent years, annual electricity consumption in France amounted to around 470 TWh, 90% being decarbonised; at the same time, oil and natural gas consumption has been around 900 TWh and 450 TWh respectively. At present, electricity accounts for only a quarter of energy consumption. Energy savings alone will not be enough to move away from oil and natural gas: as equally anticipated for Germany and Great Britain, French reliance on electricity will have to increase significantly to replace oil and gas consumption. Various recent projections underestimate this growth. However, erroneous assumptions would affect the security of our energy supply and the daily life of the French people; the impacts on the cost of electricity and energy in general, and on the competitiveness of our economy would be considerable. In this position paper, the National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF) proposes a reasonable assessment of electricity demand in 2050. It points out that the European electricity system will be more vulnerable in coming years. It proposes some principles for the choice of economic data to be used in optimisation models. On the basis of these elements, it highlights some key points for managing change in the electricity system.

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Industry of the Future: The Ramp-up in Technological Competencies of SMEs. The Case of Industrial Companies

How can we increase the competitiveness of the many industrial SMEs that are on the brink of shutting down business? Is it perhaps already too late for many of them? Are we at the edge of a massive extinction of the "species" of small industrial companies? Some people doubt that there is any point in supporting just the existing competencies with digital tools without going any further by adding the new ones that are needed in the digital age.

The recommendations formulated in the report of the National Academy of Technologies of France on the industry of the future are to be found at any of the three levels of the ecosystem: national, regional, subregional or local.

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Archiver les mégadonnées au-delà de 2040 : la piste de l’ADN

The storage and archiving of digital big data by the current approach based on datacenters will not be sustainable beyond 2040. There is therefore an urgent need to focus sustained R&D efforts on the advent of alternative approaches, none of which are currently mature enough.
The Global DataSphere (GDS) was estimated in 2018 to be 33 thousand billion billion (33x1021) of characters (bytes), which is of the same order as the estimated number of grains of sand on earth. This data comes not only from research and industry, but also from our per- sonal and professional connections, books, videos and photos, medical information. It will be further increased in the near-future by autonomous cars, sensors, remote monitoring, virtual reality, remote diagnosis and surgery. The GDS is increasing by a factor of about a thousand every twenty years.

Most of this data is then stored in several million datacenters (including corporate and cloud datacenters), which operate within transmission networks. These centers and networks already consume about 2 % of the electricity in the developed world. Their construction and operating costs are globally in the order of one trillion euros. They cover one millionth of the world’s land surface and, at the current rate, would cover one thousandth of it by 2040.

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The Role of Hydrogen in a Decarbonised Economy

The National Academy of Technologies of France unveils its report presenting the major challenges for hydrogen to play a major role in the ecological transition and industrial development. It makes fourteen recommendations grouped into four themes and defines priorities for the uses of decarbonated hydrogen, taking into account the often-neglected economic aspects. It recommends the development of a French and European industry covering the entire chain from production to utilisation of hydrogen, not only targeting home markets but world markets. Finally, it recommends intensifying the Research and Development effort.

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COVID-19 Crisis -  Accelerating the digital transformation: for a more agile and less dependent France

The NATF notes the leap forward in the use of digital technologies as a result of containment. It has examined the question of platforms that promote and multiply this use, particularly in the fields of health, education, agriculture and work organization. The NATF identifies the current limitations and makes recommendations aimed at lifting these limitations while ensuring independence and sovereignty of France.

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Advisory note from the National Academy of Technologies of France on the presence and activity of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater

In an advisory note, the National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF) considers it important to advance knowledge on the evolution, removal, inactivation and transfer of viruses in wastewater and their transfer to the environment, and in particular on SARS-CoV-2, in order to adapt strategies for disinfection and the use of treated wastewater. It stresses that such research will contribute to the understanding of the current pandemic and future epidemics and their progression.

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Attractiveness of the professions, attractiveness of the territories and challenges for industry

The contribution that the various uses of technology can make to the attractiveness of jobs, companies, training and regions.

Technologies, particularly the digital technologies, but also technologies that contribute to the ecological transition and the fight against global warming help to improve the attractiveness of the industry's trades/professions and territories.
The digital technologies reduce the handicaps of small and medium-sized towns and rural territories by reducing distances; they facilitate access to health services, they enable the development of knowledge and skills everywhere, and they contribute to the competitiveness of industrial companies, wherever they are located18. In the medium term, they enable the creation of a new industrial system consisting of small, networked units in all the territories, thus strengthening their attractiveness and improving their development prospects.
The technologies aimed at sustainable development, in addition to their contribution to environmental protection or the limitation of global warming, reinforce the "raison d'être" of the industrial companies that integrate them, thereby giving meaning to the activities of these companies and contributing to making them more attractive.

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Nuclear energy and the environment

Ce rapport sur l'énergie nucléaire et l'environnement est publié conjointement par l'Académie chinoise d'ingénierie, l'Académie nationale des technologies de France et l'Académie française des sciences. Il s'agit d'une deuxième étude conjointe des trois académies sur les questions liées à l'énergie nucléaire. Le premier rapport, publié en août 2017, couvrait de nombreux aspects de l'énergie nucléaire et proposait des recommandations conjointes, essentiellement techniques, sur l'orientation future de l'énergie nucléaire. Il s'agissait de donner un aperçu objectif de nombreuses questions scientifiques et technologiques relatives à l'énergie nucléaire (sa place dans le futur bouquet énergétique, ses avantages, ses points forts et ses points faibles, ses perspectives de recherche et développement, sa technologie et sa sécurité, son ingénierie, etc. Mais il est vrai qu'il est loin d'être exhaustif.

Les questions environnementales n'ont pas été suffisamment approfondies dans le rapport précédent, bien qu'elles soient cruciales pour l'avenir de cette industrie, et les Académies ont jugé nécessaire de poursuivre leur coopération et d'aborder ces questions importantes. Ils ont décidé de concentrer l'effort commun sur les impacts environnementaux de l'énergie nucléaire en situation normale et accidentelle, y compris les déchets, et de fournir une analyse complète de ces questions qui sont essentiellement similaires en France et en Chine. Toutefois, l'économie de la production d'énergie, qui constitue également un facteur important pour l'avenir, est déterminée par les conditions locales et régionales, qui sont assez différentes entre ces deux pays, et il a été délibérément décidé de ne pas aborder cette question dans cette étude conjointe.

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EVOLUTIONARY TRAJECTORIES OF THE ELECTRICITY MIX 2020-2060

Comments on an ADEME study on the future energy mix published on 10 December 2018
In December 2018, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) widely publicised its assessment of the evolution of the electricity mix until 2060. In essence, it recommends shutting down existing power plants (including the nuclear power plants) before their end of life, replacing them massively with solar and wind power installations (multiplication by more than ten of the current installed capacities), and developing a hydrogen economy with surplus electricity during periods of favourable wind and sunshine.