“I want Europe to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050”,
thus began Ursula von der Leyen’s inaugural speech before the European Parliament in July 2019.
The ambition is therefore given at the European Union level, which has acquired over the decades a structuring power in environmental matters. This ambition is also supported by a large majority of European public opinion. The energy sector will therefore be at the heart of the transformations needed for this transition towards a carbon-neutral economy.
In this process, the European Union has already set a course by renewing its energy & climate goals by 2030 in the recent “Clean Energy Package”. It is now up to the Member States to implement it by adopting their national strategies and plans, as France does with the Multiannual Energy Program and the National Low Carbon Strategy.
The national energy regulator plays a central role in this unprecedented human and industrial adventure. At the heart of the energy system, it was meant to accompany the transition of the sector. Its independence allows it to analyse sector issues with regard to industrial difficulties and economic transformations. Its ambition is to make an impartial contribution to the democratic debate on these subjects in the interest of the public good and taking into account the economic efficiency as it is a prerequisite for the achievement of these objectives.
Since my arrival at the head of the CRE, I wished that we exercise our missions while being guided by the absolute necessity of the energy transition and the protection of the planet. But this objective must be accompanied by three imperatives to guarantee the social acceptability of this transformation: control of public finances, national solidarity and consumer protection.
This triptych is at the heart of energy transition issues. According to the European Commission, to achieve carbon neutrality, Europe must make investment efforts in its energy system of about 175 to 290 billion euros per year. The regulator must ensure that these huge sums are invested effectively.
As such, it is appropriate to ask the right questions and not give in to the current climate or lobbies, whether they are industrial, ecological or nuclear. It is also important to take into account the particular context of France in order to avoid the unique solutions that some would like to impose.
For that, we must, on all sides, avoid inaccuracies and factual errors. Thanks to our very low carbon electricity system due to an energy mix mainly composed of nuclear and renewable energies, France benefits from low CO² emissions and controlled electricity prices.
However, this does not mean that France must continue to rely solely on nuclear power, or that we must not invest in renewable energies (RES). Renewable energies are now competitive and the power cells that alleviate their intermittency cost less and less. In parallel, new nuclear is still very expensive, if we rely on the Flamanville and Hinkley Point projects. The problem of nuclear waste has still not been solved. It is therefore rational to develop renewable energies today and aim for a smaller share of nuclear power by 2035.
Above all, the energy transition will only be possible with innovation. This innovation must be collective. That’s why when I arrived at the CRE, I set up a Futurology Committee, a real exchange place where all the actors involved in the energy sector can reflect together on future trends. This Committee has already worked on the greening of gas and its uses, new local dynamics of the energy system, clean mobility, energy storage and consumer data. In particular, innovation must take place within the networks: in gas networks, with the integration of green gas production which represents as much a source of energy as a source of agricultural income and a means of eliminating garbage; in electricity networks, which faces the challenge of decentralization and the transformation of the generating assets. At the CRE’s initiative, the Energy-Climate Act provides for a “regulatory sandbox” system which allows derogating from the regulation to test new innovations in the conditions of network access, such as the integration of electric vehicles, whose number could reach 15 million in 2035.
Finally, the use of flexibility solutions will also limit investments in electricity networks and thus facilitate social acceptance of environmental requirements. This flexibility can cover several forms: interruptibility and erasure for industrialists, self-consumption – provided it does not generate a new energy communitarianism – the levelling off of renewable energies, storage, European interconnections but also, energy savings and demand management.
Thus, the CRE is fully committed to the energy transition, at both national and European level. So that everyone becomes aware of the urgency, but also the opportunities of this revolution. Seneca wrote “You need a change of soul rather than a change of climate.” The CRE works to convince doubters that this transition can be fair and effective.
Mr. Jean-François CARENCO has been appointed President of the Energy Regu-lation Commission by decree of the President of the Republic on February 16, 2017.
Jean-François CARENCO is a graduate of HEC and later joined the National Ad-ministrative College (promotion Michel de l’Hospital). Much of his career took place in prefects. In 2015, he was appointed Prefect of the Ile-de-France re-gion, Prefect of Paris and also President of the Association of the Prefectural Corps and Senior Officials of the Ministry of Interior.
Former chief of staff to Jean-Louis BORLOO, Minister of State for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea, Jean-François CARENCO was one of the main architects of the law of the electricity market’s new organization. He also made a major contribution to the Grenelle Environment Forum, which set the objectives for the development of electricity production from renewable energy sources.
After graduating from the NAC in 1979 (promotion “Michel de l’Hospital”), he was appointed Advisor to the Administrative Court assigned to Marseille. He was then appointed as Director General of the district of Montpellier between 1985 and 1988, before being Under-Secretary-General for Economic Affairs (1988-1990), then Secretary General of New Caledonia (1990-1991).
He was appointed District Commissioner in 1991 and Secretary General of the prefecture of Yvelines (1991-1996). Appointed Prefect of Saint Pierre and Miquelon in 1996, he successively served as Prefect of Tarn-et-Garonne (1997-1999), then Prefect of the Guadeloupe region (1999-2002), and Prefect of the Haute Savoie (2002-2004). He then headed the cabinet of Mr. Jean-Louis BORLOO at the Ministry of Employment, Labour, Social Cohesion and Housing (June 2005 to July 2006), before being appointed Prefect of the Haute-Normandie region, Prefect of Seine-Maritime, from July 2006 to May 2007 then Prefect of the Midi-Pyrenees region, Prefect of Haute-Garonne (2007-2008).
As from 2008, Jean-François CARENCO headed the cabinet of Mr. Jean-Louis BORLOO, Minister of State for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Regional Planning until 2009. Always Chief of Staff to the Minister of State for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea until 2010, Jean-François CARENCO was responsible, inter alia, of the Climate Negotiations.
On December 1st, 2010, he was appointed Prefect of the Rhône-Alpes region, prefect of the Rhône. In parallel, in October 2013, he was in charge of the “Second Chance Pack” mission to fight against delinquency by the Deputy Minister of the City. Then in March 2015, he was appointed Prefect of the Ile-de-France region, Prefect of Paris.