Un modèle énergétique en transition ? Centralisme et décentralisation dans la régulation du système énergétique

Abstract : Energy transition finds itself high on the political agenda, with electricity occupying its own specific place. The aim of this thesis is to reflect on the emergence of a new electricity model, and to determine its features and whether it offers an alternative to the centralised model. Using three perspectives for analysis – institutional, technological and regional – this thesis demonstrate that this model has had its day. An accumulation of changes has transformed the electricity system, both materially and in relation to its organisation: liberalisation, rise of distributed generation, political decentralisation, and so on. The new configuration currently under production is the result of contradictory socio-technical pressures; these are creating a hybrid system between a general trend towards decentralisation on one side and mechanisms for political-administrative centralisation and technico-economic concentration on the other.The state has lost its monopoly but not its central position, even though the sector has diversified in terms of actors and technologies and become more open to society (access to production, legislative process, etc.). Neither the frustrated progression of EU operations, liberalisation, nor the greater presence of local authorities has thus far been able to entirely undermine the state's ability to position itself at the centre of operational control of the sector. It acts in different ways: withdrawal from operational matters, integration of renewables, finance, R&D, legislation, etc. On occasions it is also interventionist (shareholders, price structures, networks, etc.). In a liberal climate, the state is adapting by undertaking pragmatic reform of its activities and controlling the integration of socio-technical alternatives. This adaptation equates to a greater role for the regional authorities in public energy policy, as local areas continue to gain in importance. These regions and areas are currently defining themselves as indispensable partners of the state – largely on the basis of the bodies for intercommunal cooperation and the regional councils – for the management and implementation of a multitude of processes and technical measures at sub-national level. In parallel, they wish to assert their importance in the sector and can make use of their levers for operational control (planning, support for renewables, etc.) Today, they have still only appropriated the terrain partially and unevenly, but this strong trend means that local is the sector's new horizon, including for the state, which is adapting the organisation of its administration around the regions. And so a process, which is legal in nature and organised by the state is at work, whereby the administrations gain in autonomy to form an unhindered energy administration which cannot be reduced to a capacity to produce energy. The new boundary lines resulting from this growing autonomy are ultimately drawing up institutional territories which pose no challenge to the national scale or the role of the state.This hybrid character arises from technico-economic concentration mechanisms which are specific to the electricity network industry and its context and from rationales concerning space and territories which are connected to infrastructural factors. They result in particular from the counterintuitive deployment of distributed generation carried out in a mixed centralised/decentralised manner, highlighting the interaction between forms of control and socio-technical conditions (spatialisation conditions, concentration of actors, etc).With regard to regulation, the configuration currently emerging presents a balance between shortage/decentralisation and continuity/centralisation. Account taken of developments to come in the areas of storage and new information and communication technologies, it is nevertheless probable that this configuration will only be a long progression towards a new energy model
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Benoit Boutaud. Un modèle énergétique en transition ? Centralisme et décentralisation dans la régulation du système énergétique. Etudes de l'environnement. Université Paris-Est, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016PESC1173⟩. ⟨tel-01524555⟩

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