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L’énergie dans le développement de la Nouvelle-Calédonie

Yves Le Bars
Elsa Faugère
Philippe Menanteau
et al.

Section 2: Review and recommendations. English Version

The energy situation

Texte intégral

1The expert report was keen to collate and bring some perspective to the few broad-brush general data available and explain them in this introduction. These data relate on the one hand to potential changes in global energy consumption by 2050, with or without climate constraints, and on the other hand to the energy situation in New Caledonia. It is this common body of data which the experts shared at the start of their respective analyses before adding to it through specific additional investigations. In this first chapter, we also present a brief overview of the bodies involved, both institutional and private, and the energy companies.


2It is always difficult to make predictions. Very often in the past, the predictions made by specialists have exceeded actual consumption witnessed subsequently. To put these challenges into context, we can nevertheless turn to two extreme models of the probable changes in consumption obtained by a National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS) laboratory and the Pierre Mendès France University in Grenoble. In the first scenario, known as going with the flow, because there are no limitations on the reduction in green-house gas emissions, global consumption of coal and oil would continue to increase exponentially, probably doubling by 2050. That would of course have an impact on fuel prices.

  • 1 Gtep: gigatonne equivalent of petroleum (billion tep), which equates (based on lower heating value (...)
  • 2 Criqui P., 2009 – Vers une rupture profonde du modèle énergétique mondial, La Documentation françai (...)

3In the second scenario, designed to stabilise the climate by halving global greenhouse gas emissions, consumption in 2050 would be 40% lower than in the first scenario, reaching just 13 Gtep rather than 23 Gtep1! However, since this would not be sufficient to stabilise emissions, around one third of the 16 billion tonnes of CO2 generated by these fuels would need to be captured as it leaves the large power plants, and stored in the earth’s crust. Under this scenario, energy with no net CO2 emissions would account for 55% of the total energy supplied in 20502.

Figure 1. Global energy consumption projections to 2050 in billion tons are equivalent out of oil
According to the POLES model (global energy system simulation model to 2050) showing a scenario with unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions (on the left) and a scenario where the objective is to stabilise the climate (on the right).
Source : Modèle POLES du LEPII (Laboratoire d'économie de la production et de l'intégration internationale pour le Conseil d'analyse stratégique, 2008).

4It should be noted that, since publication of this study and the latest economic crisis, these scenarios (from the International Energy Agency, for example) no longer consider such great increases in consumption, even anticipating a possible decline in energy consumption due to the huge reserve represented by energy efficiency.

  • 3 Dameron V., Barbier C. and Riedacker A., 2005 – Les réductions potentielles d’émissions de CO2 par (...)

5This constraint is even greater in industrialised countries. In mainland France, under the framework act dated 13 July 2005 which determines the focus of energy policy, these emissions indeed need to be cut in four by this deadline. Furthermore, deforestation will need to be halted and, if possible, the forestation of non-cultivated land encouraged at the same time as producing bioenergy3. In summary, intensively applying policies which promote energy efficiency and accelerating the penetration of renewable energies, coupled with carbon storage (use of rural spaces, capture at an acceptable cost at the outlet of large-scale production units), could prove to be powerful accelerators in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Energy consumption: demand to double within five years

6Demand in New Caledonia is met fully by relatively traditional means. Electricity is produced using thermal flame, turbine or internal combustion technologies (fuel oil, diesel fuel, coal), using hydraulics and, to a lesser extent, wind power and photovoltaic generators. Transport needs are met by liquid fuels (diesel, petrol). However, future projections reveal a more complex problem given that energy needs are going to change and require the deployment of new methods of production.

7In terms of energy consumption, the mining industry (extraction and the metal industry) currently accounts for around two-thirds of primary energy consumption in New Caledonia, a proportion that is set to increase considerably with the increase in power at the plants at Vale Inco (Goro Nickel), followed by Koniambo. The change in industrial consumption thus risks masking completely consumption from other forms of usage and, in the case of energy management in particular, there is the risk that this could dis-courage initiatives which are nevertheless essential. To better identify the specific objectives and actions within these different sectors, we feel it is necessary to distinguish between the needs – and, certainly, the associated methods of production – of the mining industry and those of the rest of the country’s energy activities.

8In 2008, primary energy consumption in New Caledonia was just below one million tonnes equivalent of petroleum (or 1 Mtep, megatep or 1 million tep) and the electricity produced accounted for just below 2 TWh (1 terawatt hour = 1 billion kWh), of which one third was for public supply. In 2007, a year for which detailed data are available, primary energy consumption including the consumption of coal for energy (metallurgy industry) was split between the different sources as follows (table 1).

9It should be noted that, prior to construction and commissioning in 2008 of the first unit of the Prony Energies power plant, coal was used by the metal industry for energy purposes (91 and 67 ktep in 2007 and 2008), and non-energy purposes respectively (79 and 70 ktep in 2007 and 2008). This resulted in emissions in 2008 of at least 548 kt of CO2. The 2008 consumption figures for the first unit of Prony are not indicative because some commissioning difficulties apparently resulted in fuel oil also being burned, and the electricity production/coal consumption ratio is unclear.

10Once the two units (50 MW each, using pulverised coal) of Prony Energies have become operational (in 2010 according to the information obtained, coal consumption for electricity production only will increase to 360 000 tonnes per annum, or around 220 ktep primary and 920 GWh electrical which will meet the needs of the Vale Inco plant and a part of public supply, thus achieving a reduction in the consumption of heavy fuel oil.

Table 1 – Primary energy 2007-2008, in tonne equivalent of petroleum (tep)

Table 1 – Primary energy 2007-2008, in tonne equivalent of petroleum (tep)

Data 2007-2008, Dimenc source (the coal consumed by the production process of the iron-foundries was withdrawn).
Note 4. “Energy” coal is coal used either to produce electricity or to help heat ore in the nickel metallurgy process. “Non-energy” coal is usedin chemistry to carry carbon to the process.

  • 4 For coke, the estimate is around 0.66 tep/tonne.

11In the longer term, towards 2014, replacement of the LSN heavy fuel oil plant at Doniambo (4 x 39 MW units) with a new coal-fired circulating fluidised bed (CFB) power plant (3 x 70 MW units), followed by construction of another new CFB power plant (2 x 135 MW units) coupled with the start-up of the metal industry plant in Koniambo in the North Province will increase New Caledonia’s energy coal consumption considerably. By this date, which is not yet certain, consumption of primary energy by these two power plants could increase to around 900 ktep (or more than 1 400 000 tonnes of additional coal4 per annum, with emissions increasing by at least 3 600 kt of CO2). In comparison with the situation in 2008, and not including increases from other areas of consumption (transport, residential), this would mean a virtual doubling of primary energy consumption and more than double the CO2 emissions from New Caledonia.

Table 2 – The final energy consumption

Table 2 – The final energy consumption

2008 data, source Dimenc

12With regard to electricity, the only data obtained, provided by The Mining Industry and Energy Board of New Caledonia (Dimenc), do not pro-vide any detail regarding consumption by agriculture, fishing, services and other industries (all these consumption records are grouped together under the “private medium voltage” sector). The respective proportion of final energy consumption in each of the different sectors detailed in this table cannot therefore be clearly identified. By converting the final consumption of fossil fuels into GWh (1 ktep = 11.6 GWh), we arrive at a final, total consumption of 6 900 GWh of which the nickel industry (mining and the metal industry) represents 53% (second to last column on the right). The final column indicates the proportion of final consumption excluding the nickel industry. It would therefore appear that transport accounts for 68% of final energy. Within consumption by transport, road, air and sea represent, respectively, 79, 16 and 3% of the total.

13If final electricity consumption only is of interest here, the nickel industry in itself consumes 64% and public supply the remaining 36%. Consumption by public supply is split between the residential sector (55%), medium voltage private supply (services, other industries – 24.2%), public services (19.2%) and public lighting (1.5%).

Figure 2. Min. and max. power demanded – 2015 (public supply)
Enercal data – Enerdata report, March 2007.

14It should be stated that the network load curve (time profile of power demanded) has two characteristic forms according to the season: in summer, the curve increases throughout the whole day and in winter, there are two peaks in the morning and in the evening. Figure 2, taken from the Enerdata report, shows two examples of public supply load curves as envisaged for 2015 (we do not have the industrial consumption curve but, given no unforeseen process disruptions, it should be more or less continuous).

15From all this data, it can be seen that in New Caledonia, efforts to manage energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions need to be intensified in the metal industry and transport sectors.

Decisions already taken regarding the future

16It should also be stated at this stage that the experts, within their study, took account of certain energy-related decisions affecting the future of New Caledonia prior to commencing this experts’ report: these include the planning for the three heat generating plants and the choice of coal to feed them, as well as the decision regarding an inter-connected electricity network across the whole of Grande Terre. In addition to these decisions, the government has issued certain preferences with regard to the development of renewable energies or the policy decision to equalise electricity prices (everyone pays the same price regardless of access location).

17Moreover, we should not forget that New Caledonia is currently outside the Kyoto protocol and thus not required to manage a quota for its green-house gas emissions. However, emissions from New Caledonia and the Territorial Overseas Communities increased by 63.5% (+ 1.8 million tonnes equivalent of CO2) between 1990 and 2007 (cf. “Emissions and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in New Caledonia”). Within this group, 70 to 90% of CO2 emissions most probably come (“according to expert opinion”) from New Caledonia. If the emissions associated with the manufacture in New Caledonia of products for export are taken into account, these figures place it among the biggest emitters in the world per habitant. This comes in a changing regional environment – Australia has ratified the protocol – and in the knowledge of the likely shape of international climate negotiations which could impact the country’s economy given its high dependence on imported energy.

The institutional energy landscape in New Caledonia

  • 5 Account of the grounds for the Organic Law project, a document issued by the National Assembly, no. (...)

18New Caledonia is no longer an overseas territory as defined in article 74 of the French Constitution since the Noumea Agreement of 1998. It is now a community sui generis which does not belong to any pre-existing category, and with institutions conceived for it alone5. It is made up of three assemblies including Congress which is the deliberative assembly and legislative body. Congress votes on the “laws of the land” which are presented to it by the government or put forward by members elected to Congress.

19The Congress is made up of 54 members elected from the Assemblies of the three provinces. It works with internal committees one of which – “Public Infrastructures and energy” – handles energy. It elects the government of New Caledonia which is the executive body. The government comprises administrative departments including The Mining Industry and Energy Board of New Caledonia (Dimenc) which is responsible for energy-related issues (including on behalf of the provinces, although solely by delegation – cf. “What framework for an energy and climate policy promoting the development of New Caledonia”).

20In term of energy, Dimenc collaborates on the direction and implementation of New Caledonia’s energy policy, participates in developing technical and economic studies in the areas of energy and in promoting projects designed to deliver energy savings or develop new energy sources, in particular renewable energy. It is also charged with advising on and preparing the wording used to fix the price of liquid hydrocarbons, gas and electricity, managing electrical energy transport installations and supervising the Rural Electrification Fund Management Committee department (FER, around 800 000 000 Pacific Francs (F CFP)) and the Territorial Energy Management Committee (CTME). It proposes price updates, negotiates pricing structures with the three oil companies on an annual basis, re-examines the price per kWh together with Enercal and EEC, calculates the balance of equalised prices, studies requests – in collaboration with the departments – for the authorisation of classified installations (ICPE), monitors classified installations and monitors petrol pumps (service station pumps)…

21The Energy Observatory of New Caledonia, formed by decision no. 378 of 23 April 2008 and adopted by Congress, is the means by which New Caledonia’s energy policy is implemented. It is incorporated within the Dimenc energy department so as to collate various information regarding the energy situation in New Caledonia as provided by the energy stakeholders, i.e. the importers, producers, transporters, distributors and consumers of different types of energy. This database serves as an evaluation and control tool for the measures designed to manage energy and develop renewable energies. A permanent energy committee has also been formed under the aforementioned decision to be led by Dimenc, which also coordinate thinking on the topic of energy in New Caledonia. It will suggest the formation of working groups and help to define the country’s energy policy. Its aim is also to draw up a balanced development plan as defined under article 4 of the institutional decision.

22Currently, Dimenc appears to be working primarily with data provided by the manufacturers and it seems that few statistical and overall studies have been conducted into the import of energy resources and energy production and supply within the territory. The Energy Observatory, if it is to meet the targets set of it, will need to establish an accurate database to be made available to policy decision-makers, manufacturers, associations and private individuals.

23There is also an institutional body to implement renewable energy and energy management promotional campaigns in New Caledonia which is the Energy Management Competition Fund (FCME). This organisation receives financial support from New Caledonia and the Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME). New Caledonia’s contribution is paid out of a tax on petrol – the parafiscal tax for renewable energies (TER). Activities liable for total or partial subsidy by the FCME are included within the general objectives regarding the rational use of energy, the promotion of renewable energies and saving primary energy sources.

24These activities are funded jointly by the ADEME and New Caledonia, or solely by New Caledonia. In addition to this programme of activities supported annually to the sum, in 2009, of 1 759 800 euros, or 210 000 000 Pacific Francs (F CFP), the FCME contributes to the annual rural electrification programme by subsidising electrical installations in New Caledonia and domestic air cooling equipment powered, at remote sites, by a photovoltaic generator installed under the rural electrification fund. The FCME is managed by the Territorial Energy Management Committee (CTME).

25The CTME, for example, lends its support to energy saving bulbs markets and individual solar water heaters (Cesi), to the development of thermal performance ratings in new homes (Ecocal) and, earlier, the biofuel system (coprah in Ouvéa, sunflower in North Province). Among the projects supported, of particular note are the electrification of private homes by means of photovoltaic and wind installations and the case study involving the Tina toll station, which since July 2007 has been equipped with a photovoltaic farm attached to the supply network and, more recently, implementation of Bilan Carbone + to measure carbon footprint.

Industrial stakeholders in the production of nickel

26The nickel economy is known to be a very important component in the general economy of New Caledonia.

The Société Le Nickel (SLN) and the Doniambo plant

27A global leader in the production of ferronickel, Société Le Nickel (SLN), founded in 1880 and with its head office in Noumea, is a subsidiary of the French conglomerate Eramet. Nickel production is exported in its entirety to Japan, Korea, China and Europe.

28SLN has five mining centres, one in the south at Thio and four in the north at Kouaoua, Népoui, Tiébaghi, and Poum which opened at the end of 2007, plus a plant at Doniambo which will be capable of producing up to 72 000 tonnes of nickel per annum. It also subcontracts the working of two mines, Étoile du Nord in Kaala Gomen (North), and Opoué (Païta) in the south.

29Eramet holds 56% of the shares in SLN, STCPI has 24% and Nisshin Steel, its main Japanese customer, 10%. STCPI (Société territoriale calédonienne de participation industrielle) is made up of Promosud, the financial arm of the South Province which owns 50% of the shares, Nordiles, a Loyalty Islands Province association (via Sodil, which holds 25% of the shares), and the North Province (whose financial holding company, Sofinor, also holds 25%). By way of information, STPCI paid dividends of 2.3 billion F CFP (19.3 million euros) in 2007 against 2006 activities.

The Koniambo project, expected commissioning date 2012

30This pyrometallurgy plant project is managed by the joint venture Koniambo Nickel SAS (KNS) based in New Caledonia, with 51% of its shares held by Société minière du Pacifique sud (SMSP) and 49% by Xstrata Nickel. This latter, which is headquartered in Switzerland, is a major mining concern and is quoted on the London and Zurich stock exchanges.

31SMSP is majority owned by the North Province of New Caledonia, via Sofinor. SMSP is also involved in other projects in partnership with South Korea (a company called Posco). Sofinor, a North Province finance and investment company, is a public-private partnership belonging to the North Province and founded in October 1990 to acquire SMSP.

Vale Inco Nouvelle-Calédonie and the Prony Energies heat generating plant

32Vale Inco Nouvelle-Calédonie (formerly known as Goro Nickel) after its main technology partner and principal shareholder, was founded in order to mine the deposits at the Goro plateau. Apart from Vale Inco (69%), its shareholding is made up of the Japanese company Sumic Netherlands Nickel (21%), South Province (5%) and North and Loyalty Islands Provinces (5%).

Table 3 – Comparison of the two pant projects

Table 3 – Comparison of the two pant projects

Source : La Nouvelle-Calédonie en 2006, IEOM, 2007 ; A. Comoul and J.M. Eberlé, BRGM, april 2007.

33The gradual kick-off of the mining and industrial complex, currently under construction, began in 2009, with full production capacity expected in 2013.

34Vale Inco Nouvelle-Calédonie has made available to Prony Energies (which is held 75% by Enercal and 25% by Elyo, a subsidiary of the Suez group) the land required to build an electricity generating station comprising 2 x 50 MW units using coal as the fuel. The project’s energy requirements will take up only 50% of the total energy production, enabling the other half to be used to meet New Caledonia’s public electricity supply needs which, with no management policy in place, risk increasing.

35Prony Energies will undertake construction of the plant itself. Vale Inco Nouvelle-Calédonie is, however, responsible for construction of the infrastructures necessary to its operation.

The electricity companies


36The New Caledonian energy company Enercal was founded in 1955 with the purpose of deriving hydroelectric power from the Yate (a river to the east of New Caledonia) to support the French nickel industry in underpinning its competitiveness in the global market.

37As well as developing a production centre, Enercal has, since 25 August 1972, held the energy transport concession for New Caledonia. As such, it is responsible for ensuring that electrical energy is transported and distributed throughout the entire territory. In 1973, Enercal became a distributor of electrical energy in addition to its activities as a producer and transporter.

38In 2008, the principle of the transfer of shares held in Enercal by the nation and the French Development Agency (AFD), set out when the Noumea Agreement was signed, was exercised and from that point, New Caledonia has held 54.4% of the shares in Enercal. The remaining shares are held by Eramet (16.3%), EDF (16%), Elyo (subsidiary of Suez, 10.8%); finally, the municipalities of New Caledonia collectively hold 2.5% of the shares, while the three Provinces hold a symbolic 0.003%.

39Today, Enercal guarantees virtually all the electricity production along with all its transport and distribution to 27 of the 33 municipalities which make up New Caledonia (particularly rural municipalities) which have granted it a concession for the distribution of public electricity.


40EEC, an electrical energy production and distribution company, is a subsidiary of Elyo (itself now known as Cofely following its merger with Cofathec), part of the Suez group. EEC Suez-Gdf began operating in New Caledonia in 1929 when it was granted the concession, under the name of Unelco, to produce and distribute electrical energy for the city of Noumea.

41EEC’s major shareholder is Suez Energie Services (SES), one of Suez’s four sectors of activity.

42Today, EEC manages the distribution of electricity to the municipalities of Noumea, Mont-Dore, Dumbéa, Bourail, Kaala-Gomen, Koumac and Lifou, where it also ensures the maintenance and operation of public lighting installations. The company also produces wind power, with farms on Grande Terre and at Lifou.


1 Gtep: gigatonne equivalent of petroleum (billion tep), which equates (based on lower heating value – LHV) at 11 600 billion kWh or 41.8 EJ (exajoules, billions of billions of joules)..

2 Criqui P., 2009 – Vers une rupture profonde du modèle énergétique mondial, La Documentation française, Questions internationales Le climat risques et débats, no. 38 July-August 2009, 67-75.

3 Dameron V., Barbier C. and Riedacker A., 2005 – Les réductions potentielles d’émissions de CO2 par des plantations forestières sur des terres agricoles dans le monde à l’horizon 2050, Cahier du Clip, no. 17 September 2005, 41-91.

4 For coke, the estimate is around 0.66 tep/tonne.

5 Account of the grounds for the Organic Law project, a document issued by the National Assembly, no. 1229, 25 November 1998 and Jean-Yves Faberon, La nouvelle donne institutionnelle en Nouvelle-Calédonie, RFDC, 1999.

Table des illustrations

Légende Figure 1. Global energy consumption projections to 2050 in billion tons are equivalent out of oilAccording to the POLES model (global energy system simulation model to 2050) showing a scenario with unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions (on the left) and a scenario where the objective is to stabilise the climate (on the right).Source : Modèle POLES du LEPII (Laboratoire d'économie de la production et de l'intégration internationale pour le Conseil d'analyse stratégique, 2008).
Fichier image/jpeg, 132k
Titre Table 1 – Primary energy 2007-2008, in tonne equivalent of petroleum (tep)
Légende Data 2007-2008, Dimenc source (the coal consumed by the production process of the iron-foundries was withdrawn).Note 4. “Energy” coal is coal used either to produce electricity or to help heat ore in the nickel metallurgy process. “Non-energy” coal is usedin chemistry to carry carbon to the process.
Fichier image/jpeg, 308k
Titre Table 2 – The final energy consumption
Légende 2008 data, source Dimenc
Fichier image/jpeg, 152k
Légende Figure 2. Min. and max. power demanded – 2015 (public supply)Enercal data – Enerdata report, March 2007.
Fichier image/jpeg, 248k
Titre Table 3 – Comparison of the two pant projects
Légende Source : La Nouvelle-Calédonie en 2006, IEOM, 2007 ; A. Comoul and J.M. Eberlé, BRGM, april 2007.
Fichier image/jpeg, 164k

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