The Mediterranean has become even more important for Marseille. France's second largest city keeps growing and energy needs follow that growth. New needs that could have a solution in renewable sources of energy, such as the sea.
The energy released by the difference in temperature between a loop of seawater and a loop of fresh water is used to cool or to heat a whole neighbourhood. This project, called Massileo, benefits from European Cohesion Policy funds, and has developed technologies never applied on this scale before.
The Cohesion Policy is the EU's main investment policy and supports economic growth, sustainable development, job creation and more in all European Union regions and cities. It celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
Massileo works over a district of 2.7 hectares, which includes a hotel, apartments and offices which have already been built. More than 750 people already benefit from the energy network. It is eco-sustainable and intelligent because buildings can transfer energy between them. Living or working in such an environment sows the ecological seed.
"I have the feeling, that when the colleagues from Eiffage moved into this high-performance building, they became more sensitive to ecology issues. They started putting the waste out, the paper they used each day, campaigning to gather up all the waste left in the streets, in order to feel they are in a more pleasant environment," explained Romain Houke, Program Manager Eiffage.
New energies mean new ways to master them. There's even a kind of competition between neighbours. Who consumes the least?
"Every person has a digiphone in their apartment. This digiphone offers several activities, the main one being 'energy coaching': each neighbour's consumption of electricity, lighting, electrical plugs, cold water, hot water and also heating," Laurent Pirot, concierge of Etic home said.
Lower bills and a sustainable energy resource - Massileo's model is being closely monitored by other cities and regions of Europe and beyond.