The issue of electricity transmission and distribution has never electrified the crowds. The objective of reducing the country’s energy consumption by 10% by 2024 and the threat of a blackout this winter, on the other hand, has raised awareness of this strategic issue. In France, as elsewhere, electricity flows from the place where it is produced to its final consumer.
In our country, RTE is responsible for transporting it from power plants and/or renewable energy installations, in particular via high or very high voltage (THT) lines. Then past the transformer station, Enedis distributes it at low voltage to private homes, as well as to other private and public sites (offices, shops, industries, etc.). In other words, two EDF subsidiaries, in the process of being renationalised, transport, maintain, operate and manage the entire network.
Two contracts worth 1 billion euros in Brazil for Vinci
This situation of quasi-public monopoly remains a special case in Europe and in the world. As recently as October 3, Vinci signed two public-private partnerships with Brazil’s National Electric Energy Agency covering the financing, design, construction and operation of VHV lines for nearly 1 billion euros.
“When the offer is submitted, our Brazilian team calculates an annual fee, itself expressed as a discount in relation to the maximum annual fee indicated by the client. This commitment to value in real terms includes investor and operator compensation,” explains Christophe Pélissié du Raulas, development director at Vinci.
“This annual fee is inflated [indexée sur l’inflation] every year,” he says immediately.
In twenty years, its subsidiary Cobra IS has already built 32,000 kilometers of very high voltage lines. If it had kept them, it would hold, to date, 25% of the park, but it sold everything to investors. For these new lines, “we are not ruling out the idea of opening up the capital, but the decision has not yet been taken”, says the senior executive of the listed group. And this, in a context where the depth of the market remains enormous: 30,000 kilometers of EHV lines are planned over the next ten years.
“There is an imbalance in the Brazilian electricity market between photovoltaic power plants in the North and large consumption sites in the South, so much so that the transmission network must be reinforced”, deciphers the director of development of Vinci, Christophe Pélissié du Raulas.
Germany is investing heavily in the balance of its network
Due to the development of renewables, the decarbonization of energy and the imbalances between production and consumption, this will indeed mechanically lead to the creation of new electricity transmission and distribution networks. For example, Germany, caught between phasing out nuclear power and dependence on Russian gas, has decided to invest massively in wind power. offshore in the North Sea, but this also requires it to review the management and balance of its electricity network.
In this regard, the Spie group announced on October 6 the installation of 15 kilometers of very high voltage lines between two German municipalities. ” in order to to transport wind energy from north to south”. In this French company listed on the SBF 120 which defines itself as the “independent European leader in multi-technical services in the fields of energy and telecommunications”, electricity transmission and distribution already represents 17% of its turnover (46% in Germany!) with average annual market growth estimated at 5% by 2025.
“Unlike the German and Dutch markets, which have already been privatized, the French market is more controlled by public companies”, notes Lieve Declercq, CEO of Spie Nederland and member of the Spie group’s executive committee.
“Germany and the Netherlands have understood much better than France that it is better to collaborate and work together to meet the challenge of energy transition, rather than in a subcontracting relationship. This is the key to having enough resources to successfully meet this challenge, which requires considerable investment,” she continues.
Bouygues and Eiffage are also positioned in this market
Bouygues is also positioned in this market but, unlike its competitors, the major refuses to speak publicly. Within its Energies & Services division, which has just absorbed Equans, the EnerTrans entity designs and builds high and medium voltage installations for network managers, municipal industrial services, power stations and industry.
Its rival Eiffage is hardly more talkative and refers to the installation of pylons created especially for a very high voltage line in Hauts-de-France. However, it has just accelerated on renewable energies by purchasing, at the beginning of September, Sun’r, which specializes in photovoltaic fields and agrivoltaism.