From decentralized production to electrification, even today, in 2030, the energy transition has many implications for a DSO like RESA. This requires substantial investments and above all a lot of anticipation.
For decades the debate on energy focussed mainly on the question of the phase out of nuclear power plants. Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 changed all that. Soaring prices made energy a major topic of common interest. Everyone became aware of the issues surrounding supply, thanks to explanations by popularizers in the press.
This event highlighted the true scale of the challenge of the transition, and even of the energy revolution. Achieving the objectives set required a major acceleration of the pace. In Wallonia, carbon neutrality meant reducing energy consumption by more than 50% and replacing the use of fossil fuels by green alternatives such as biogas, e-methane etc.
At the root of this energy revolution stands a massive electrification of uses. In one decade, electricity consumption for mobility multiplied by almost five times in Wallonia.
Today, heat pumps have clearly made their mark, which has also increased the share of electricity for heating, a trend that is set to accelerate even more between now and 2050, as home renovation intensifies.
In parallel with electrification, renewable energies have been actively developed. In Wallonia, the installed capacity has more than doubled between 2021 and 2030, with photovoltaic energy developing very strongly. And this is only the beginning, as power production is expected to multiply by 5 between 2021 and 2050 to reach carbon neutrality.
Historically, our electricity networks were not designed to absorb such decentralized production. As a public utility, we had to do everything we could to ensure that every consumer has access to a reliable power grid.
Doubling electric voltage
In concrete terms, the plan we established in 2022 to increase the electric voltage available to each customer from 3 kVa to 6.66 kVa is today, in 2030, more essential than ever. This is based on a requirement of 2 kVa for traditional uses, 2 kVa for electric mobility and 2.66 kVa for a heat pump.
In recent years, we have therefore initiated an ambitious investment plan of 820 million euro to adapt our networks by 2050. This is in addition to our recurring investments of around 80 million euro per year.
To finance all of this, we plan to continue to turn, among others, to investors, who are fond of bonds issued by a player committed to the energy transition and with a stable financial outlook.
Back in 2022, Resa asked Wallonia to accelerate the installation of smart meters. They were essential to the energy transition, and they were the precondition to building the networks of the future.
The platforms developed with our colleagues from Ores, Sibelga and Fluvius and our common smart meter allow us to collect and analyze data. The P1 port enables us to offer our customers applications that enable them to manage their energy in the best possible way and thus ease the tension on the network.
The future of the green molecule
Anno 2030, the role of fossil gas in tomorrow‘s low-carbon energy mix is clearly reduced. However, we cannot do without the molecule, which still represents the majority of the energy we transport.
Our investments and support for sectors such as biogas, hydrogen and e-methane are contributing to the development of green alternatives. We are also participating in the development of CO2 capture technologies in Wallonia.
This scenario that we have before us in 2030 is somewhat idealistic. Unfortunately, unforeseen events are likely to occur along the way. That is why the sector needs to think about changes to the tariff methodology. While five-year rates provide visibility, it is important to be able to take into account the changing context, political choices regarding climate targets, etc. The tariff methodology has to adapt to the transition, not the other way around.
About the interviewee
General Manager of RESA since 2018, Gil Simon has been active in the group that integrates the gas and electricity, known as a Distribution System Operator (DSO), in the province of Liege for over 10 years. A connoisseur of the energy world and local politics, he insists on the public service aspects and the social role of a company like RESA.
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