How will the energy transition law impact on heating networks


Despite some grey areas and a lot of toing and froing between the National Assembly and the Senate, the French law on energy transition to green growth will soon be finally adopted. It will impact in many ways on the lives of French people … just as it will affect the country’s heating networks.


 Energy transition law, changes for everyone

Unquestionably, the “Bill on the energy transition to green growth” is an ambitious text. Its objectives? To reduce France’s significant energy costs (€ 70 billion), to lead the way in the combat against emissions of greenhouse gases, to drop the nuclear share in electricity generation to 50% by 2025 and to create employment generating activities (100,000 jobs to be created over three years).

These goals are accompanied by changes in behaviour, rules and habits. Including:

– Requiring private residential buildings – whose annual consumption exceeds 330 kWh/m2 – to undergo an energy renovation before 2025.

– Increasing to 500,000 the number of dwellings renovated every year.

– Creating 75,000 jobs nationwide in the energy renovation of buildings sector.

– Halving the national energy consumption by 2050.

– Increasing the performance of new buildings.

– Encouraging the development of positive energy territories (TEPOS).

– Achieving 32% renewable energy in final energy consumption by 2030.

– Improving the financial support of the renewable energy industry.


An additional step in the development of heating networks

Obviously, heating networks are affected by changes in these uses. And for good reason: according to the latest study by the ENS (National Union district heating and urban air conditioning) on ​​behalf of the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, France now has over 500 heating networks with a total power capacity of 16,553 MW and thermal energy delivering 25 800 GWh; 57% of these heating networks use fossil fuels to produce heat compared to 40% using renewable energy.

In order to contribute to “green growth” as required by the law on energy transition, adjustments are therefore necessary. There are five main steps:

– The obligation for local authorities in charge of a heating network to carry out a master plan by December 31, 2018. This document is to assess the potential for the intensification, expansion and interconnection of networks and to quantify the possible development of the share of renewable energy and recovery (REC & R).

– A strengthening of controls (and penalties for failure to adhere to these controls) for consumption metering systems.

– A doubling of the French Heat Fund – which, since 2009, has given the go ahead to many building projects including the modernization and expansion of heating networks – within three years.

– The merger of the national programs for electricity, gas and heating in a single document, which will centralize the priorities for action by the public authorities for all forms of energy on the territory.

– The increase in energy produced from waste and recovered heat. This must be carried out in those facilities whose purpose is the production of heat or electricity, and which are capable of burning conventional fuels in order to not be dependent on a supply of waste material.


Beyond the transition law?


As ambitious as it is, the French bill on energy transition to green growth is not the only program of its type in Europe. Other countries have already embarked on the same path. In Germany, for example, the “Energiewende” was one of the first European programs in the field. It provides for the abandonment of nuclear power in 2022 and the transition to 80% renewable energy by 2050. In Italy, the ambitions are more modest: the country intends to comply with the rules set by the European Union and reduce its dependence on the countries from which it imports oil and gas. In Sweden, the model is different: the country has implemented a carbon tax of more than 100 euros per tonne of CO2 emitted. This decision is part of a “low carbon” strategy that has been implemented since 1991.

The law on energy transition to green growth will soon be a reality. It should change our lives in a very concrete way and it will have a huge impact on the development of heating and cooling networks. Perhaps the first step should be to harmonize policy at a European level?


Image source: Flickr (Damien McMahon)

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