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Publié le
Mardi 14 Janvier 2020
Faced with the development of decentralised renewable energy production and "smart grids,’’ how can we rethink the governance of European electricity systems, and finance the decarbonisation of our electricity?
Electrical systems in the energy transition in France and Europe

Electricity has become an essential asset in the dual digital and ecological transition. From electric vehicles to heat pumps, the reduction of  CO2 emissions requires an increasing use of electricity. These developments offer fresh challenges to power systems: the integration of renewable energies, the development of decentralised production and storage facilities, and the arrival of "smart grids". And because electricity is "a long-term industry » we must evaluate its transformation as soon as possible to avoid the risk of destabilizing the system as a whole. Thus France Stratégie is posting two contributions to this debate online.

In an initial working document, Dominique Auverlot asked three European economists, Dieter Helm, Marc-Oliver Bettzüge and Fabien Roques, to formulate proposals to reorganise the sector at the European level, five years after their contribution about the crisis in the electricity system. What regulations are needed by 2030 to ensure the transition to carbon neutrality in the European energy system? This is a question an international group of experts aims to answer, taking into account the specific problem of the price of electricity for the customer. Europe's dependence on the importation of hydrocarbons and equipment such as photovoltaic solar panels or batteries is an increasing concern. The integration of intermittent renewable energies into the power system is, indeed, a pariticularly senstive issue, because of their technical specificies which tend to weak the system. In addition, renewable energies still need financial state support.

 Distribution networks continue to be strongly affected. Indeed, according to the European Commission, sixty-four percent of the estimated cost of the energy transition (450 billion euros) is related to the investments needed to adapt these networks (including the transmission network.) In the French case, which Étienne Beeker examined in a second working paper, it is clear that the distribution network faces formidable challenges. Managed chiefly by Enedis, it has played until now only a role in delivering electricity to the final customer. This role is necessarily evolving with the development of decentralized renewable energy production, storage opportunities, and electric vehicles, together with citizens' aspirations for energy self-sufficiency. It is also becoming more complex with the advent of "smart grids"--that is, the integration of digital technologies (especially smart meters and connected objects) to optimize energy production and consumption. The distribution network is, therefore, mobilized for an "increasing insurance" as well as for data management ; at the same time, it affords a guarantee of solidarity among territories.

Read the full document in French

Electricity distribution networks in the energy transition

Electricity distribution networks in the energy transition



Etienne Beeker
Développement durable et numérique
Anciens auteurs de France Stratégie
Dieter Helm
Marc Oliver Bettzüge
Fabien Roques
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