Some want to see them disappear, while others expect them to be implemented on a larger scale to move towards a low-carbon world. Renewable energy (ENR), and especially wind turbines, share the presidential candidates. Anne Hidalgo, Yannick Jadot, Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Luc Mélenchon are in favor. While Eric Zemmour, Marine Le Pen, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and Jean Lassale simply want to suspend all construction projects.
Beyond this clear political divide, experts in the field are categorical: energy transition infrastructures are crucial to achieving the climate goals that France has set itself as part of its national low-carbon strategy (SNBC). And according to RTE, the leader of France’s high-voltage electricity transmission network, a moratorium on renewable energy would simply lead France to “lack of low-carbon electricity to meet needs beyond the 2030-2035 horizon”.
Added to the climate crisis today is the urgent need to build our energy sovereignty at a time when the war in Ukraine is highlighting economies that depend on imported fossil fuels. So how can the acceptance of energy conversion infrastructures, which are crucial for their diffusion, be improved? This is the issue that the Environment Commission under the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (Cese) has examined. The body was seized in September 2021 by Prime Minister Jean Castex. It delivered its opinion on 23 March.
XXL infrastructure vs invisible fossil fuels
The exercise is difficult because wind turbines and solar panels, often located in rural areas due to their low population density, pose significant agricultural and space use conflicts and sometimes encounter strong resistance, local residents who like real nuisances.
Sometimes idealized in the collective imagination, it must be remembered that renewable energy has real industrial characteristics in terms of their size (the mast of a wind turbine can be 200 meters high), their number (some wind farms have up to 70), their land holdings ( sometimes hundreds of acres for the largest solar power plants). Not to mention the incessant traffic of trucks during the construction phase or to supply the methanisators.
Distrust of these new infrastructures is all the more acute as the model of intensive consumption of fossil fuels has for years cast a great veil over our eyes.
“The vast majority of the energy consumed in our country is still almost invisible and intangible”, thus recalled at the beginning of the session Thierry Beaudet, the President of Cese. ” Who, in our countries and nowadays, sees an oil pipeline, a coal mine, an oil well? », he asked.
A new territorial social contract
On the contrary, the introduction of renewable energy implies a local anchoring and is synonymous with “visibility”, he pointed out. According to him, “acceptability implies much more than an industrial reorientation”. It requires “a new social contract between the richest (who emit too many greenhouse gases) and the poorest (who, despite themselves, are already at the required level); between the urban and rural population, whose exposure to genes is very different; between the younger generations, warned of climate change, and the elderly who have difficulty understanding the extent of the changes needed “.
Specifically, the two co-rapporteurs, Claire Bordenave (CGT Group) and Nicolas Richard (Environment and Nature Group), recommend clarifying, in France’s Energy Roadmap (PPE in bureaucratic jargon), the contribution of the territories to the targets of the national low. carbon strategy. They also believe that the new imbalances between territories, caused by the development of renewable energy in sparsely populated areas, should be the subject of reciprocity contracts. Objective: to ensure a fair distribution of efforts and benefits.
A major national public debate, a strategic state …
Cese also recommends “plan more the development of renewable energy by strengthening the role of the state’s strategist and planner“. This planning must be clear and then broken down by the regions, then by the local authorities, taking into account the specificities of the areas. The aim is to avoid a piecemeal expansion of infrastructures according to private possibilities. , “by concretely addressing the global history of energy transition and the possible changes in lifestyle”.
The rapporteurs are also in favor of establishing voluntary energy-climate landscape consultations to enable the territory’s stakeholders to orient their choices between the possibilities of renewable energy and efforts at sobriety. Cese also insists on the need to systematize consultations before each infrastructure project, “when no process is required by environmental law”.
… and a wind transmitter
“It is the lack of consultation that upsets the local residents and leads to lengthy lawsuits. Consultation saves time on the downstream side”, emphasizes the co-rapporteurs. “That the decision-making process is crucial to restore trust. It is as much as the decision itself, ”they add.
Finally, the body calls for the creation of a wind energy intermediary, inspired by consumer intermediaries. So many roads that should make it possible to move towards a strong support from the population, without which the transition can not take place.