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The new law on accelerating production of renewable energies will also facilitate the grid connection of industries to serve decarbonation ! Zoom on grid connection projects in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.
In order to achieve decarbonisation goals described in European and French strategies, many French industrial players have recently committed to invest in decarbonisation projects. In many cases, these initiatives significantly increase electricity consumption, through electrification of existing industrial processes, development of high-powered hydrogen electrolysers, or development of new industrial assets to decarbonise energy uses (such as production of batteries for electric vehicles, or production of renewable fuels). Since 2021, requests to connect large consumers to the French electricity transmission grid have reached more than 15GW. These requests are mainly concentrated in industrial-port areas, such as Le Havre, Dunkerque and Fos-sur-Mer. RTE is fully committed to support these projects, which are essential to tackle climate emergency and to ensure French and European industrial sovereignty.
In this context, connection solutions can no longer be individually examined (project by project). Instead, they need to be mutually studied at, on a scale of a given area, in order to keep costs and delays acceptable, as well as to minimise environmental impacts. The electricity transmission network needs to be adapted quickly, by strengthening certain axes and building new high-capacity infrastructures. To reach this goal, and to ensure that France is able to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2030, administrative procedures for these projects need to be simplified. Lastly, the capacities that will gradually be freed up in each of these areas need to be allocated as effectively as possible.
The opportunities of the law on accelerating production of renewable energies
The law n°2023-175 of 10 march 2023 on accelerating production of renewable energies contains new provisions to meet these needs. In particular, it contains three series of measures for the decarbonisation of French industries that could have an impact on grid connection projects of large industrial consumers:
- by law, the delay to commission grid connection of decarbonation projects could be reduced, via exemptions and derogations from a number of administrative procedures (public participation procedures, enquiries or administrative authorisations).
- on a transitional basis, it is provided by law that a French competent authority will be allowed to modify the order in which connection requests for decarbonisation projects in a geographical area are ranked, in accordance with transparent and objective criteria laid down by decree set by the Conseil d’Etat, when the insufficient capacity of the public transmission network leads to a connection delay of more than five years.
- finally, regarding mutualisation, the French national regulatory authority (the Commission de regulation de l’énergie) may authorise RTE (i) to oversize connection assets in order to enable simultaneous or subsequent connection of several installations and (ii) to equitably share the connection costs among the beneficiaries (quota).
Implementing decrees will specify these various proposals. In the meantime, RTE will continue to respond to consumer for connection requests, mentioning when necessary the effects of those new legislative provisions on the technical and financial proposals.
Regarding connection requests in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, what happens in concrete terms ?
Regarding requests that have been received in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region since the end of march 2022, RTE will send the technical and financial proposals starting mid-March, in the order in which the connection requests were received and after a period of approximately 12 months. This period can be justified by the complexity of the area and the numbers of connection requests received.
To meet the capacity need associated with all the requests received for this region (representing to 6 GW), RTE is planning to reinforce the existing network and then, develop a new high-capacity axis supplying the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region in electricity and substations in the Fos-sur-Mer area. The exact routes of this infrastructure will depend on the results of the dialogue with local authorities, stakeholders and the public which will happen from 2023. The delay to bring this infrastructure into service will depend on the acceleration levers of administrative procedures described in the law on accelerating the production of renewable energies.
The cost of the infrastructure will be shared among the various requesting parties who will benefit from it, in compliance with applicable legislative and regulatory provisions. As such, the French energy regulatory authority should adopt a formal decision related to the infrastructure to be created and the cost-sharing modalities.
In compliance with its technical reference documentation, RTE will rank the connection requests according to the acceptance date of the technical and financial proposal submitted by RTE. In compliance with article 8-2 of the general terms and conditions of the technical and financial proposals, the proposal is deemed to be accepted if, within its validity period
- RTE has received a signed copy of the technical and financial proposal,
- RTE has received evidence from the requesting party that it has control over the area of land,
- The client has paid the advance on its financial contribution to the connection.
This initial ranking shall be without prejudice of any subsequent changes which may be made in application of new legislative provisions.
Finally, despite the significant investments envisaged by RTE, more constraints on the network may appear above a certain volume of connections. Above a certain threshold, RTE may propose a connection offer associated with flexibility requirements to be activated when constraints appear on the public transmission network. These requirements will consist in lowering electricity consumption.
And for the other regions ?
Regarding connection requests received from other industrial zones, RTE will specify over the next months and once the network restructuring studies have been finalised the procedures for handling these requests.
March 13, 2023