Les Echos, the French business newspaper, carried an extraordinary article from a Senior Vice President of EdF, the largely state-owned utility that will build the nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point in England. Marc Boillot contends that ‘large nuclear or thermal power plants designed to function as baseload are challenged by the more flexible decentralized model’. He says that the centralised model of power production is dying, to be replaced by local solar and wind, supplemented by batteries and intelligent management of supply and demand. Not only will this be cheaper in the long run but customers are actually prepared to pay more for solar electricity and actively work to reduce usage at times of shortage. His conclusion is that ‘the traditional model must adapt to the new realities, thus allowing the utilities to emerge from …hypercentralized structures in a world that is becoming more and more decentralized’. In most jurisdictions Mr Boillot would have been asked to clear his desk. What will EdF do about one of its most senior people openly forecasting the end of the large power station as it tries to raise the ten billion Euros necessary to pay for its share of Hinkley?
Carbon Commentary Newsletter 19th Feb 2017 read more »
[Machine Translation] Can solar energy carry everything? THE CIRCLE / POINT OF VIEW – Over the last twelve months, in France, a solar and wind capacity exceeding one EPR has been commissioned. Faced with the climatic and digital ruptures, the great European and American utilities accelerate their transformation. But will that be enough to keep their leadership? It’s not just a technological challenge, it’s a challenge on mindsets. This requires action without delay, on a large scale and in disruption. And yet, solar electricity production and wind power are becoming less and less expensive. Microgrids, electrical islets at the scale of a neighborhood or a village, are multiplying. Battery storage is expanding massively in the United States. Large nuclear or thermal power plants designed to function as a base are chal- lenged by the more flexible decentralized model. The electricity grid itself, which plays a collective insurance role, is threatened by self-consumption which deprives it of its income. Citizens are seduced by this decentralized model. They are willing to pay more for solar electricity. They want to be able to become actors of the electrical system by acting at the right time on their electrical appliances by delaying or reducing their consumption, by charging their electric car when the wind blows or the summer when the sun is shining. The traditional model must adapt to the new realities, thus allowing the utilities to emerge from this paradox in which they have locked themselves up in order to perpetuate hypercentralized structures in a world that is becoming more and more decentralized. It is imperative to support innovations, initiatives, risk-taking, and creativity.
Les Echos 15th Feb 2017 read more »