The 2013/08/02 at 07:49
Improving energy efficiency and optimising consumption. These are the goals of smart grids currently deployed in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. And it is the CCI of Nice Côte d’Azur that is piloting this vast project aimed at exploiting new technologies to plan and improve energy consumption. From 2010 onwards, the Chamber expressed its desire to participate in the transition towards a new way of using energy. Keen to oversee this procedure, the Chamber headed up the creation of the Smart Grid Côte d’Azur charter presented a few weeks ago. This charter specifies smart grid functions to integrate in the future buildings in the Eco-Vallée districts of the Var Plain, a territory holding more than 10,000 enterprises and employing around 60,000 persons.
On top of supervising energy in this economic lung in southeast France, the charter explains that the same principles for efficiency can be applied to a town, a large city, or a department. The application of the decreed principles is to be translated by the integration of a high level of renewable energy production, energy storage systems, the management of the recharge and discharge of the territory’s electric vehicles, the involvement of consumers as “consumactors”, and the definition of these criteria in the specifications of all developer contractors.
The development of smart grids is synonymous with this region’s strong potential for economic expansion. Many large groups show a desire to get involved in this type of approach, for example Cisco and EDF, as well as sundry SMEs riding on green growth. “Gravitating around these businesses are research organisations focused on innovative solutions for technology and energy, such as the INRIA (Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et Automatique or Inventors for the Digital World), the ADEME (Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie or French Environment and Energy Management), as well as the laboratories of the Ecole des Mines (engineering school) and the CSTB (Centre Scientifique et Technique du Bâtiment, specialised in building techniques),” reminds Jean-Christophe Clément, Energy Expert at the Enterprise and Territory office of the CCI of Nice Côte d'Azur. The notion of “consumactors”, aimed at involving the client in energy optimisation approaches, will be a major axis of development, in coming years, of the French demonstrator “Nice Grid”, locally developed by ERDF in Carros (department of Alpes Maritimes).
Depending on the anticipated levels of electricity consumption on any one day, clients will be invited to dynamically shift certain usages to certain hours of the day, thanks to information on energy usage available in real time. Displaying key information, communicative meters are another element of the future aiming to transform consumers into consumactors.
This gearing towards smarter energy management responds to a specific local context. In 1950, there were 94 million inhabitants in the 21 largest towns on the Mediterranean basin. There will be 378 million inhabitants in 2025, with 87 % of the energy consumed locally being fossil fuels. “In the department of Alpes-Maritimes, energy is an important topic for a number of reasons. It represents bills totalling 60 billion euros. Five to 10 % of business turnover goes to energy – an important factor in the context of the current crisis, all the more as electricity prices are set to increase by 30 % in the next 5 years. This is why local representatives have sought to create an Energy team at the CCI of Nice Côte d’Azur,” explains Jean-Christophe Clément. I
n addition, the department is vulnerable as far as electricity supply goes, as it is supplied by a single line with a capacity of 400 kV, and is at the end of the grid, isolated by 200 kilometres of forest, with sea to the south, mountains to the north, and an administrative border to the east. It should also be noted that the Alpes-Maritimes territory imports 90 % of its electricity consumption.
In contrast, its neighbouring department, the Alpes de Haute-Provence, produces twice more energy than it consumes thanks to hydraulic and photovoltaic solutions.