Thanks to European observation satellites in orbit around the Earth, a French start-up was able to take a picture of French industry after the confinement. And its conclusions are not really reassuring, especially when compared with our neighbors.

Has French industry set off since deconfinement? Have the factories really returned to work? To find out, we will take the height this Tuesday morning, a lot of height.

Yes, thanks to the images from the Sentinel satellite network, European Union Earth observation satellites which rotate in an orbit of around 800 kilometers. These images are processed and analyzed by the French start-up Kayrros, which specializes in this type of analysis. Thanks to images, factory fumes, temperatures, greenhouse gas emissions, we can measure economic activity almost in real time. With the help of EY, these specialists have therefore developed an index of recovery that can be followed since the start of deconfinement. 

And what we see from the sky is sometimes surprising.

The first thing that strikes you when you analyze these images is that French heavy industry is really idling, only 58% of its level in January. If you take steel for example: the Fos-sur-Mer blast furnaces only turn at half their capacity. Dunkirk is a third. In cement, it is much better, we have practically returned to the pre-crisis level. But overall, and this is the second lesson, our factories are still largely idling. We can see this very clearly through the production of electricity: on July 7, a week ago, we were only 87% of the pre-crisis level. Our economy is still far from having returned to a normal rhythm.

What about our neighbors?

They do better. If we remake the film: what the satellite images that cover all of Europe show very well is that the French factories stopped more than in our neighbors where they more often maintained an activity. And since the end of confinement, it restarts more slowly. The figures are striking: compared to a base 100 in January, no country has returned to the same level. But all the same, the United Kingdom and Germany are at 85, Spain at 78, Italy at 73 and us at 70.

Behind these figures there is a huge question that paralyzes the industrialists and the government: will we find in the coming months a normal level or will the crisis have definitively made us lose part of our industry ? Are we going to definitely drop out in certain sectors? Or are we going to maintain our capabilities? That is why the government insists so much on reducing the production taxes that weigh on the industry. Without this type of measurement, this is what the images seen from the sky show, some factories will never restart.