Ajaccio: the puzzle of the city’s gradual running out of gas

City From Ajaccio about to reboot gas distribution public service staff. A deficit market and 20 years of DSP integration, this energy abandonment in the long term is also considered. pollutant. Several solutions are being studied to replace it.

Uncertainty is still high over the signing of a new public utility (DSP) for gas distribution in the city. Will the service provider Engie agree to supply 15,000 Ajaccio families for 20 years with a deficit of around €400 million? “Engie will make an offer and the City will only sign if financial terms are acceptable, depending on the state’s level of commitment.” : For Pierre-Paul Rossini, who is in charge of this file at the City Hall, everything will therefore depend on the outcome of the negotiations between the State, the operator and the City regarding the value of the assets of the Loregaz project. topic of discussion (110 million euros for the operator, 70 million euros for the state, i.e. a difference of 40 million euros that the City is not ready to pay).

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“We still have 6 months to find a solution”, the chief inspector of city services is confident. What if no deal is reached by July? How will 15,000 Ajaccio homes (about 45,000 people) heat themselves next winter? ” “We will be forced to requisition to ensure gas distribution.” he continues.

Right to the requirements?

But this assumption is undesirable because it introduces a major pitfall: who will demand? “The city has the authority to distribute natural gas, but it cannot afford to pay”Pierre-Paul Rossini says, turning his eyes to Paris. Not surprisingly, no other operator has applied for this DSP and its highly loss-making market, except for Engie, the former French gas company with a quarter of the state’s capital. Especially since the deficit will expand further with the gradual decrease in the number of gas subscribers.

The terms of an order published last April by the Ministry of Environmental Transition actually accelerate the planned end of gas heating in the city (2020 decision). “in part” by the state in areas not connected to the continental metropolitan network, for a maximum period of twenty years costs resulting from the necessary investments and operational deficits related to the conversion of the use of LPG networks to electricity or renewable energy”.

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Twenty years and not more. ” We were hoping for a little more timePierre-Paul Rossini sighs. Therefore, we have 5 years to start all the studies, then 10 years to change the networks concretely, and 5 years left to dismantle the gas network, which is currently more than 120 km. First of all, the order does not specify to what extent the state will bear the costs of this energy revolution.

Therefore, it is important to have a very clear idea of ​​exactly what can be done and, above all, the costs incurred in this transition, since the City started the assistance in work supervision (AMO) a little less than a year ago. He was assigned to ASK, a consulting firm specializing in energy planning for the public sector.

“AMO will announce the results in the fall, we want to know what gas can be replaced by region and at what price”, adds Pierre-Paul Rossini. Electricity is a priori an obvious solution, but the energy mix has to be found.

The energy mix will be found, according to the regions

Engineers Grégoire Decarnelle and Charlélie Piau, head of mission and consultant at the AEC, respectively, detail the following methodology: “The study consists of three stages: the first stage consists of the inventory of gas network supply. Who mainly consumes and in what proportion? What is the network’s business model? The second stage, which we are currently involved in, consists of determining all possible methods for gas replacement. The predominance of individual boilers in Ajaccio buildings is the main technical problem for gas switching. “The lack of a collective boiler is a technical problem, explain the experts. That’s why we study neighborhood by neighborhood what the most suitable solutions will be.”.

For this purpose, three axes emerge: first, to reduce consumption through repairs. The second axis: creation of heating networks for the transition from individual heating to centralized heating: “We look at the density of energy consumption and based on that, consider biomass heating (wood sector)with solar thermal (solar water heaters) or with hydromarethermy (using the sea as a heat source). Geothermal energy is also considered. (read below).

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The third axis: transition from gas solution to electricity. In addition to the multiannual energy program (PPE) requirement to involve renewable energies, this solution raises concerns: “It would be unthinkable to go all-electric overnight, underline engineers, this would place too many constraints on Corsica’s electricity system.”

Therefore, the idea is to limit the use of electric heating by identifying areas in the city where other heating sources are technically possible.

Finally, the final phase of the AMO will consist of a quantitative assessment of the identified solutions and an accurate assessment of the necessary investments as much as possible.

The transition requires technical know-how and manpower, which is currently in short supply in Corsica. “Changing our gas network over 20 years is very complicated. Worries Pierre-Paul Rossini. Considering that we will start doing this in 5 years, this means processing 1500 houses per year, or 5 houses per day. Where will we find the skilled workforce to make this transition in time? »

As a player in the energy transition, Ademe (along with the State and CdC) attends briefings for the study conducted by the AEC firm on behalf of the City. ” At Ademe, one of our goals is to make France as CO2-free as possible.2. Of course, it is much better than fuel oil, but it is more polluting than, for example, electricity produced by wind energy. Regional Director Jean-Marc Ambrosian emphasizes.

“First of all, we need to reduce the needs”

For the latter, first of all, it is necessary to reduce the needs. ” The key to a good transition is based on this understanding. Two-thirds of energy self-sufficiency in PPE is achieved through energy conservation and one-third through renewable energies. However, many new buildings in Ajaccio are thermal sieves, a law was passed to tighten the restrictions and they are prohibited from being rented out. Ademe’s Green Fund has €2 billion for local authorities to accelerate the ecological transition and move on property assets by reducing the number of these thermal sieves. »

READ ALSO: Electricity consumption in Corsica has dropped by 12% since October

For the director of the agency, solar water heaters are a good alternative to city gas: ” We support this solution as part of the heating fund. In order to heat the water, which is an energy that captures the sun’s rays, all the cities, especially the Greek islands, came up with this solution. » Jean-Marc Ambrosiani increases the possibility of adding heat from the use of solid renewable fuels (SRF). Supported by environmental associations, their project is likely to be produced by the ongoing Chapa sorting plant. But the Corsican Community has not yet decided on the possibility of their production. Other energy sources: wood boiler, “It can be installed at the entrance of the city or at another place to be determined.” Or even a tide pool” projects are underway in major foreign cities such as Reunion with a submerged exchange system, while some private companies are working on it in Corsica..

Finally, geothermal energy is a solution that should not be overlooked on the island, according to the director: ” We are talking about the heat of the earth under our feet. There are no geothermal companies in Corsica, but there are many companies that specialize in water drilling. However, this technology involves drilling. Geneva, whose configuration is reminiscent of the city of Ajaccio, located between lake and mountain, is in the process of organizing a good part of its heating network through geothermal energy. Nice and Paris also carry out such operations in the Nice Meridia and Clichy-Batignolles districts. »

“The future is a mixture of all these energies”

Finally, heat can also be recovered from large power plants, he notes. What about the wind? “Ademe is looking at the energy self-sufficiency projection study of the island and we think we won’t get there without wind power.. “It remains to convince the public to create these large infrastructures in the landscape…” The future is a mixture of all these, Jean-Marc Ambrosiani reckons. It will be impossible to suddenly disconnect in Ajaccio. For example, the city of Nantes committed to the heating network more than 20 years ago. The urgency of determining the work program, district by district, follows from this. »

What is the final cost per subscriber? ” Ademe’s heat fund arranges financing to ensure that the heat produced and supplied to users is 6-10% cheaper than the pre-crisis gas price. Therefore, the City and Chapa will be able to establish a project with the implementation of the DSP awarded to a private partner and request a subsidy from Ademe. There are also Feder-type European funds that CdC implements in the area. »

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