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Montpellier Métropole, an excellence center for renewable energies

Information updated on 05/08/22

In addition to EDF Renouvelables, Engie, and TotalÉnergies, the Montpellier area features an effervescent ecosystem complete with shining stars, innovative startups, a crowdfunding platform, and green electricity providers. Let’s take a look.

La transition énergétique par la croissance verte est un défis planétaire
The Montpellier Métropole territory features a rich and dynamic ecosystem of renewable energy players. France’s top three providers are present here. In addition to EDF Renouvelables, which created its national hub near Montpellier (see related article), two other heavyweights in the sector are also located in the area: TotalÉnergies Renouvelables through the acquisition of Vent d’Oc by its subsidiary Quadran, and Engie Green, which acquired 100% equity in a long-standing French wind energy provider, La Compagnie du Vent.
Founded in 1989 in Montpellier by Jean-Michel Germa, La Compagnie du Vent was a pioneer for renewable energy, the first company that installed a wind turbine for electricity production in France. The wind turbine was installed in Port-la-Nouvelle in 1991. Since that time, Jean-Michel Germa founded Sunti and Maritime Green Horizon (MGH) in Pérols just south of Montpellier. The company recently merged with Sun’Agri to “accelerate agrivoltaic development”.
The Montpellier Métropole territory also features another pioneer: Jean-Marc Bouchet, former sea captain, founder of Énergie du Midi, then Quadran, which invested in renewable energies starting in the 1980s. Jean-Marc Bouchet is now becoming a major player in green hydrogen with Hyd’Occ. The company, owned by his Montpellier subsidiary Qair Premier Élément and the Regional Climate Energy Agency (Arec), is leading the Corrhyd'Occ project, selected by the Occitanie Region, destined to produce 20 Megawatts of renewable hydrogen energy in Port-la-Nouvelle, with a hydrogen distribution station in collaboration with Air Products.
Lastly, another pioneer: Montpellier-based Vol-V, founded by Cédric de Saint-Jouan, Arnaud Guyot, and François Bouffard, sold its VOL-V Renewable Electricity (VOL-V ER) subsidiary to Compagnie Nationale du Rhône in  2019, along with all its projects and wind turbine and photovoltaic production assets, after selling its biomethane business to Engie.
In addition, two local flagships attracted major European operators: Urbasolar, a precursor in solar energy founded in  2006 by Arnaud Mine and Stéphanie Andrieu, was acquired in 2019 by the Swiss company Axpo, thus becoming the group’s photovoltaic operator. Their joint ambition is to become a major player for the solar energy market in France and Europe. That same year, Valeco joined the German group EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG, one of the largest energy suppliers in Europe. Their goal is to make the Montpellier subsidiary one of the five top players in France’s wind turbine and solar market.
One remarkable consideration is that these acquisitions strengthened the companies’ attachment to the Montpellier area. All are continuing to grow, while their founders have gotten involved with other job-producing projects that are just as innovative. That is how the renewable energy sector has, over the years become, a solid excellence center in the Montpellier Métropole territory.
This success is no accident.

“Montpellier’s renewable energy ecosystem leverages history that began over 20 years ago. Not only that, but Occitanie has the largest installed base of wind turbines in continental France, and the region is second in France for solar energy, just after the Sud region (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur),” explains David Augeix.

The former manager from Energie du Midi, who later became director for EDF Renouvelables in southern France, is a perfect example of this sector’s momentum in the metropolitan area: he is now creating his own company to develop, manufacture, and operate solar and wind turbine production sites.
Many other local companies are also very active, such as Luxel, also acquired by EDF Renouvelables, Apex Energies, and Vestas France. These companies are complemented by green electricity providers, such as Enercoop Languedoc-Roussillon’s Mint Energie, created in 2017 following the transformation of Montpellier-based Budget Télécom, which is also positioned in the market for self-consumption; and Cemater, the Occitanie regional renewable energy cluster based in Montpellier that has united players in the sector for the past 11 years, also assisting them with business development.

Montpellier Métropole is also home to ENERFIP, the first crowdfunding platform for the energy transition, along with many innovative renewable energy companies such as Comwatt and Bulane, two startups assisted by Montpellier BIC. There are also world leading experts in renewable energy production, such as 8.2 France. Lastly, the Bouygues Energies & Services Est and Grand Sud Regional Department is based in Montpellier.
Nourished by Montpellier Métropole’s innovation ecosystem, the sector continues to gather momentum.

“This is just the beginning,” predicts François Daumard, CEO of Valeco. “Hydrogen and offshore wind turbines will be the next relays for knowledge benefiting Montpellier, the Silicon Valley of renewable energies in France.”

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