This is the part of RTE’s report that most resonates with the current concerns of households, whose purchasing power is being eroded by the rise in fuel and gas prices. No, the energy transition will not cause the bills to soar, assures RTE. “Carbon neutrality can be achieved at a manageable cost”, believes its president Xavier Piechaczyk.
By 2060, the cost of electricity would increase by around 15%, excluding inflation, in the median assumption. The main driver of the increase would be the closure of existing nuclear power plants which are being depreciated. Conversely, “A strategy of massification of renewable energies targeting the creation of large parks”, as well as a new nuclear program “Who would meet the cost targets resulting from the audits” – in other words, which would not get out of hand financially as we have seen in the past – would make it possible to contain production costs.
Still, there are a lot of conditions. But RTE also highlights the savings made on hydrocarbon imports with the exit from fossil fuels, ie between 20 and 70 billion euros per year, depending on the price of gas and oil on the market. “In a carbon neutral scenario, the cost of the system is more stable and depends on parameters that can be controlled”, notes the report, recalling that the production lines would be located nearby, for nuclear power, batteries, electrolysers necessary for the manufacture of hydrogen, or even wind turbine blades. The only downside would lie in the uncertainties over the supply circuits for rare metals, which will prove to be crucial, in particular for cobalt, lithium, nickel and manganese.
The security of electricity supply to France should also depend a little more on its European neighbors: 5% of consumption, against 1% today. By 2050, RTE mentions a level of 39 GW of import capacity, compared to 13 GW today. Public support for renewable energies in recent years in Europe, with the introduction of feed-in tariffs, has enabled operators to gain visibility and reduce their costs. This system is bound to endure in one way or another, the report emphasizes, judging “Unlikely that renewable energies will be financed directly without any form of public support or long-term contract”. Ditto for nuclear.
If it is not the consumer, it is the State, and therefore the taxpayer, who could be called upon, providing its guarantee. All energies will indeed need good financing conditions to be competitive. According to RTE, the return on the capital necessary for their construction (the cost of credit in a way) should remain stable at around 4%. Switching to a completely carbon-free electricity system will indeed require colossal amounts of investment. “Over forty years, it will be necessary to invest between 750 and 1 trillion euros, depending on the scenario chosen, to supply the country with electricity, that is to say from 20 to 25 billion euros per year”, details the report. This represents a doubling from the current pace.
It will be necessary to build new production units, but also to largely rebuild the electricity network, both by installing new lines (to connect wind farms at sea, for example) and by adapting it to the multiple decentralized units. that will emerge. In addition, there is the need to build significant additional capacities to support renewable energies when there is neither sun nor wind. According to RTE, climate change could lead to an increase in drought situations (which will therefore weigh on the activity of the dams), but also an increase in cold and windless periods.