Between the short term and a real-life revolution, local governments are busy

the necessary
The Syndicat Audois des Energies et du Numérique (Syaden), responsible for the public energy service and the digital development of the area, supports local authorities that want to control or reduce their energy bills. And works on the issues of “energy sovereignty” and “renewable electricity” in the medium and long term.

Group play to resist

On average €60 per inhabitant: this weighed the energy bill for the Aude municipalities, “before the crisis”, with a share of the operating budget between 5 and 10% (for the ”typical” municipalities of the department, from 200 to 1,500 inhabitants, note of the editor). A cost that is difficult to reduce, with buildings concentrating 70 to 75% of energy consumption, before public lighting (15 to 20%) and fuels (5 to 10%): so many challenges to reconcile, even more with the consequences of the health crisis and the war in Ukraine, which weigh on purchasing power, commodity prices and energy prices. One last point the Syads try “reducing the impact on communities”specifies its chairman Régis Banquet, through purchasing groups, for electricity and gas.

The first, negotiated in the autumn of 2021, related to the purchase of 127 GWh/year and a supply of €8 million (excluding the tariff for the use of public electricity networks, linked to the transmission of electricity, and taxes, note of the editors) for 429 municipalities (9,000 meters): the key to the discussions, a “limited” increase of 17% with “a price that has leveled off over three years for budget visibility”, Régis Banquet specifies, when individuals suffered a 40% increase. On the gas side, the consortium brings together 90 municipalities, for 75 GWh/year, which amounts to € 2 million in expenditure (again without the network subscription and excluding taxes, editor’s note): an amount which corresponds to a purchase price of € 20 MWH , “when prices went up to €200, and now we’re around 100-150”specifies the president of Syaden.

A bet on the collective that was also made for the group purchase of electric vehicles, with a contract allocation planned for the summer of 2022. And because of uncertainty, with highly fluctuating markets, the Syads will develop purchases in 2023 “on occasion”by examining the available volumes in the stock market: the opportunity, here too “have the lowest possible prices”and “to reserve”

Advice and training on performance

Public finances, local budgets and public services organized by local authorities: three areas that are inevitably ”weakened” by rising energy prices. A subject that worried Syaden before the crisis(s). “For five or six years we have been working on the energy efficiency of buildings, with audits, projects delivered to communities and grants”, says Regis Banquet. Shared energy advice, with a general asset audit, is usually followed by an application of 25% of the measures, “with considerable profit” † In the field of targeted energy audits and associated thermal renovations, 40 files were launched, with the aim of reducing consumption by 30 to 40% within two years.

Another lever, public lighting, with €1.5 million in grants from Syaden means €3 million in work, with a 50 to 80% gain allowed through the use of LEDs and a 40% saving for the extinguishing the night in about sixty municipalities. The picture wouldn’t be complete without the agent training component: “We know that lowering the temperature by 1° saves 7% energy”Recalling the incentive to use digital technology, Régis Banquet specifies, between “remote control” and “sensors”, to avoid parasitic expenditure on heating and lighting. So much dedication that, the President of Syaden believes, has weighed in the frenzy of the projects submitted by the Aude communities to take advantage of the windfall of France Relance and the funding released by the state for the energetic renovation of municipal or departmental buildings: “An average of 25 to 30 files were selected per department. In the Aude, 193 files were submitted and selected. That’s a good thing, because the municipalities were ready.” As a result, € 9.3 million was paid.

Wood, hydrogen: thinking ahead

€ 40,900 investment (including € 32,000 state aid) for a pellet boiler, € 800 in annual savings, 4 tons of oil equivalent (TOE) replaced fossil energy per year, 11 tons of avoided CO2 emissions per year on the 513 m2 of the municipal center of Laure-Minervois, by eliminating fuel oil; €39,000 (including €10,200 in regional and departmental aid) for the same equipment, €9,600 in annual savings, 15 t less CO2, to the school group Salles-sur-l’Hers (881 m2), the heat production of propane gas forgotten unit; or a heating network for the school, canteen and recreation center (2,400 m2) in Villepinte, with €320,000 in investment (including €180,000 in Regional, Department, Ademe aid), for an annual saving of €6,570 in expenditure and the consumption of 1,000 liters of fuel oil. Three examples, which became reality in 2016, 2017 and 2019 and which, based on the opportunity analyzes provided by Syaden, led to these shifts: all advantages, emphasizes Régis Banquet, “between subsidy options and stability in energy consumption”

A track in the wood energy sector that of course still needs to be explored in the future. Just like that of geothermal energy, and more generally of an effort for the production of renewable electricity. With the semi-public company ELO, Syaden is investing for 20 to 30 MW of production capacity: “Mainly on photovoltaics, says Régis Banquet, for installations on 1 to 2 ha, in municipalities of 150 to 200 inhabitants, to achieve self-consumption”. From Laroque-de-Fa to Pomas, projects are in the works, on a collective scale. But this path of self-consumption also applies on a more limited scale, such as the carports of the hospital center of Carcassonne, their “100 to 150,000 € savings” and a “self-consumption motherhood”or charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (IRVE), from Villerouge to Alzonne via Peyriac-Minervois.

Short circuits that should also lead to the use of what is presented as the energy of tomorrow, green hydrogen. A resource on which the Region has committed 150 million euros for the period 2019-2030, with the nerve center of Port-La Nouvelle and the Corridor H2 project to decarbonize mobility. A path that the Syads clearly controlled: “Producing photovoltaic electricity to inject it into a hydrogen production plant in Carcassonnais”this is the future that Régis Banquet dreams of.

The Limoux wood energy heating network, symbol of “energy sovereignty”

The Saint-Joseph Institute, Alogea housing, the Habitat Louise Michel residence, the Aude emergency shelter, the USSAP, the Maison des Associations, the Chénier nursing home, the hospital center, the Jean-Moulin school, the future cultural center . Here is the (non-exhaustive) list of buildings that should benefit from the central boiler room in the summer of 2022 and the three kilometers of wood heating network on which the Syads, commissioned by the Community of Communes of Limouxin, has been operating since 2015. An investment of €5 million and a clear advantage, both economically and ecologically: “For all these players and buildings, we currently consume 700,000 to 800,000 € per year in energy, between natural gas and fuel oil, summarizes Régis Banquet. With this network we go to 500,000 € per year.” An economy authorized by “relatively stable wood chip prices”† Without forgetting the hope that the boiler room will be equipped with “wood from the Montagne Noire and the Haute Vallée (the sector represents 260 jobs there, editor’s note): “We would then be fully engaged in the circular economy and energy sovereignty.” And the last important advantage: a saving of 1,890 tons of CO2 emissions per year by abolishing the consumption of 6,500 MWh/year of fossil fuels.

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