History

RTE: from past to present

Key dates

From the date it was founded, RTE has been constantly developing a smart grid. We have been designing innovative market services and tools to maximize transmission system efficiency at the lowest cost to our customers and the community. We have established interconnections with neighbouring countries to optimize resource usage at local, national and European level. We have also tailored the system to accommodate renewable energies and consolidate infrastructures to maintain power supply throughout the country. Below are the main highlights our history.

2000: Foundation of RTE

Our role: maintaining, operating and expanding the transmission system in a spirit of fairness and equality for all transmission system stakeholders. The aim: to prepare for deregulation of the electricity market. During this period, RTE was still an independent function attached to EDF, with a separate administrative, accounting and management system.

2000: A new market mechanism for balancing supply and demand

In the autumn of 2000, RTE introduced a system allowing market players to conduct all types of commercial transactions on the electricity market. The purpose was to narrow the gaps between projected and actual supply and demand profiles.

2001: An electricity exchange

RTE took part in the creation of Powernext, an electricity exchange geared towards deregulation of the French market.

2002: Launch of the grid reinforcement programme

Following a season of violent storms in 1999-2000, RTE implemented an extensive network reinforcement programme which will be completed in 2017. The scope of work, three quarters of which has already been completed, has two objectives: reinforcing infrastructures and maintaining power supply to all substations in the event of winds as strong as those experienced in 1999. As a result, the severe weather experienced in the winter of 2013-2014 did not significantly affect the grid. In total, RTE will have spent 2.4 billion Euros on grid reinforcements.

2003: Birth of the balancing mechanism

RTE introduced the balancing mechanism, designed to maximize economical and technical efficiency of the transmission system. As near as possible to the time of demand, RTE asks generating facilities and consumers to rapidly decrease or increase their load profiles, and selects the most technically and economically advantageous option. This is an effective solution for coping with unexpected transmission system faults, like a sudden and unexpected power plant outage.

2005: Creation of a specific legal structure

RTE became a limited company and EDF Group subsidiary. This change followed on from deregulation of the electricity market in France. This further reinforced the independent nature of the relationship between EDF and RTE. Additionally, the latter’s neutrality towards all generating facilities became enshrined in its bylaws.

2006: Market coupling

Along with Belgium and the Netherlands, France pioneered the coupling of electricity markets to facilitate price convergence in key areas. This initiative was extended to include other European countries, i.e. France, Germany, Benelux, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Spain and Portugal.

2008: Launch of CORESO, the first technical coordination centre

Following the black-out that occurred in November 2006, plunging a part of Europe into darkness, RTE and its Belgian counterpart Elia set up CORESO. Its purpose: To enhance operational coordination between transmission system operators and increase the security of Europe's power supply by providing member-state transmission systems with day-ahead security analyses. It now comprises the transmission system operators of France, Belgium, the UK, Germany and Italy.

2013: Commissioning of the Cotentin-Maine power line

Covering a distance of 163 km, this 400-kV overhead line provides security of supply for the West of France. It will convey electricity generated by the Flamanville EPR as well as by wind and marine current turbines (renewable marine energy). The Cotentin-Maine line is the result of 343 million Euros in capital expenditure, 7 years of local dialogue, and barely 1 year of construction work: an amazing technical feat.

2014: Making demand-side management competitive

The pilot phase of the NEBEF demand-side management initiative gave rise to first-time market valorisation: this novel system enables demand-side users and operators to directly sell their energy efficiency gains on the electricity market.

2015: Expand benefits from renewable production

RTE connects Europe’s biggest solar power facility Operated by Neoen, the 300-MW Cestas solar farm near Bordeaux can generate up to 350 GWh a year by using one million solar panels. In order to integrate this renewable energy into the power system, RTE has built a 225-kV substation and two underground lines of the same capacity covering a distanceof 1.6 km between the new substation and the power plant.

In the meantime…

We have continued fulfilling our role of conveying electricity flows across the grid, second by second, to provide maximum security of supply at the lowest cost to our customers and the community. We have continued to maintain the transmission network throughout France. In order to meet the needs of our customers and the community, we have reinforced and expanded the system by building underground lines, opening it up to wind and solar energy and establishing interconnections with our European neighbours, etc.

What about tomorrow?

Ever since it was founded, RTE has constantly endeavoured to improve and optimise so that it can make its facilities even smarter and offer its customers safe, economic and clean access to electrical power. We are already laying the groundwork for the smart power of tomorrow. There is no shortage of projects: extension of market coupling to Southern European countries, installation of smart substations, using drones to maintain infrastructures, more extensive promotion of demand-side management … Watch this space.

  1. As a regulated monopoly, the majority of RTE revenue is determined by transmission system access pricing (TURPE), the details of which are defined by the Energy Regulator (CRE). These price regulation principles provide RTE and its customers with stability and forward-looking perspectives over a period of several years.

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