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L’énergie dans le développement de la Nouvelle-Calédonie

Yves Le Bars
Elsa Faugère
Philippe Menanteau
et al.

What framework for an energy and climate policy promoting the development of New Caledonia

Technical options, stakes, assets and constraints

Texte intégral

1The experts’ evaluations presented earlier show that New Caledonia has a high potential for energy management in residential and industrial sectors: reducing energy consumption is possible, but it comes at a cost and requires a change in modes of production, construction and consumption.

2There is also a high potential for the development of renewable energies and new technologies: some of the new energies developed across the world offer new prospects to New Caledonia, such as those already being explored with windpower and the production of photovoltaic electricity. On the other hand, the available biomass suffers from the dispersal of production and land constraints, which makes it difficult to exploit them despite a technically renewable potential, which is probably significant. Storage facilities should be developed, particularly concerning pumped-storage electricity, if the existence of technical potential is confirmed.

3It was deemed useful to present a synopsis of the maturity of the various techniques used for energy management, new production and the capture of CO2.

Figure 14. Standard representation of the dissemination process
Maturity is defined according to the graph, adapted by Svi Griliches

Table 8 – The sectors and their technology options

Table 8 – The sectors and their technology options

Technology maturity levels.

4Even if an incentive policy is adopted in the two sectors mentioned above, the consumption level is such, that the energy demand cannot be covered by renewable energies; this is particularly due to the large metal companies, for whom large-capacity production is required.

5In brief, New Caledonia cannot overlook the issues of protection of the environment and greenhouse gas emissions in the regional and international context.


6At this stage, it would be useful to have all the facts to steer future public decisions. As a supplement to the technical options, the technical-economic analysis can help to identify priorities by introducing the economic dimension. This analysis is commonly used to assess and compare the costs of available options, then classify them by order of merit in a rational economic framework aimed at minimising the overall cost of the project.

7In this case it has not been possible to undertake this analysis, as the gathering of the required information did not come within the scope of our experts’ report. Nevertheless, to bring additional elements into the analysis, we have estimated the challenges and cost of each of the main options identified. In concrete terms, we have estimated the technical potential in terms of energy production or savings (or that of CO2 in the case of storage) associated with each option; we have also assessed the total expenses needed to mobilise those amounts of energy.

8Each variable was estimated on a three-level scale: low, moderate, and high. This analysis is essentially qualitative, we do not claim to have carried it out in a stringent scientific manner, but insofar as possible, it is based on knowledge stemming from other experiences. Lastly, we completed the analysis with an estimation of the constraints and assets of each option, in order to come up with a criterion of implementation difficulty which takes account of the availability of the technologies, the feasibility of the policies as well as associated benefits (such as energy savings).

Table 9 – Qualitative cost/quantity analysis

Table 9 – Qualitative cost/quantity analysis

Each variable is estimated on a three-level scale: low, moderate, and high.

9We can thus see that an option such as energy management in the stock of old buildings offers a high potential in terms of energy savings, that the cost of this renovation is high (but likely to generate savings for consumers) and that its implementation is highly complex (thermal regulations in the stock of existing buildings are difficult to impose and relatively slow in producing effects). Conversely, the challenges of an option such as the imposition of a bonus/penalty on the purchase of individual vehicles are less significant, but this option is low-cost and relatively easy to implement.

10To supplement this first purely qualitative analysis, we have attempted to grade the options in a graphic form (Figure 15). The diagram is mainly based on the information in table 9. In addition, it integrates the feasibility dimension that we have chosen to combine with the time dimension. In concrete terms, the options which are relative easy to implement and immediately available are shown in black; the options shown in red are those which are less easy to implement and not immediately available but which could reasonably be implemented, and those which are more long-term and uncertain, or liable to produce results over the longer term.

11The diagram shows the options in relation to the quantitative stakes they represent (energy saved or produced, GHG emissions avoided) and associated costs; for the sake of legibility, not all options are shown on the graph.

12Note: for further details, please refer to the useful information given in the CD-ROM “What framework for an energy and climate policy promoting the development of New Caledonia?”

13At least three major groups of options stand out for examination:

  • the options with very high stakes but moderate costs (industrial energy management, solar water heating, photovoltaic energy), or even higher stakes but at higher cost (thermal rehabilitation of existing housing);
  • the options with stakes which may not be as high but which do not present any major implementation difficulties: thermal regulations for new buildings, energy management of lighting and household appliances, the renovation of the stock of public buildings, the development of windpower, etc.;
  • lastly, the options for which the stakes are seemingly more modest or not well known, but whose estimated costs are low: particularly energy restraint, as well as the bonus/penalty scheme for private vehicles and the development of school transport.

Figure 15. What are the priorities concerning energy and climate technologies in New Caledonia?
The diagram shows the options in relation to the quantitative stakes they represent (energy saved or produced, GHG emissions avoided) and associated costs; for the sake of legibility, not all options are shown on the graph.
Note: for further details, please refer to the useful information given in the CD-ROM "What framework for an energy and climate policy promoting the development of New Caledonia?"

14On the other hand, according to this analysis, it would seem appropriate to disregard the options located in the upper left-hand side of the graph for the moment, as they are more costly and their stakes are limited. Such options include ocean thermal energy conversion and biofuels stemming from seaweed. At present, those options are costly and their stakes uncertain.

15Photovoltaic energy and thermodynamic solar energy require special comments. At present, these technologies are still very costly, and one may be surprised to find them in a moderate cost zone. In fact we have taken into account prospective drops in their cost. While uncertainties remain on the future cost of thermodynamic solar energy (see “New energy production and storage technology”), the lowered costs observed over numerous years and the technical progress expected in photovoltaic technology indicate that costs will continue to drop. As for thermodynamic solar energy, the inclusion of heat storage in those systems is a favourable element to promote its integration in the network; moreover, the current growth in this sector should give rise to significant drops in costs.

16Progress is also expected in fields such as oxy-fuel combustion, but this technology works as part of a system, and there are still major uncertainties as to the feasibility of geological storage. Only photovoltaic energy is examined in depth to take account of expected technical advances.

17To conclude, we want to emphasise the fact that this report has a bias towards the technical-economic dimension. Other dimensions must also be taken into account, particularly concerning the feasibility and acceptability of policies: the land ownership issue and governance problems. Prospects of regional cooperation or research and development may also prompt reconsideration of the options suggested above.

18Lastly, this technology-based economic analysis has other limitations:

  • Certain measures of a technological nature must not be implemented in isolation, but rather in combination with other measures, in particular with regard to organisation and tariffs. Thus, the introduction of a tariff-based measure (bonus/penalty or annual tax disc) on the most fuel-inefficient vehicles would be more effective if combined with the development of public transport.
  • For technologies to be deployed on a large scale, even if they are considered as mature in other contexts, they must undergo a demonstration programme, for their technical and economic adaptation. Such is the case, for example, of the use of biomass in the manufacturing industry, or thermodynamic solar energy.
  • The net cost of operations that give rise to energy savings and the reduction of GHG emissions depends of course on the price of the energy and CO2 saved; a sharp increase in prices could warrant the implementation of certain operations that may seem too expensive today.

19Moreover, we must stress that in the context of New Caledonian, we consider certain options as difficult to adapt, even though they are said to be promising elsewhere. There are several reasons for this: the remote location of major international flows and the relatively small size of New Caledonia’s domestic market (which, for example, make the natural gas solution inappropriate). The difficulty in obtaining land for projects requiring a large amount of space, and the shortage of manpower for agricultural or forest-based projects, are also factors to be taken into consideration.

20In a more general way, the energy and greenhouse gas sector is changing rapidly, in all aspects (technological, economic, regulatory and with regard to practices) and on all levels (starting with individuals and municipalities, all the way to the global scale); it is therefore needs to be monitored on a permanent basis. New Caledonia must therefore improve its monitoring capacity in those areas.


21In New Caledonia, the control of the urban sprawl of Greater Nouméa seems to be a priority. The urban development plan and the urban transport plan indicate the measures to be taken in this respect. Their implementation will require greater integration of the policies followed by the different municipalities of the metropolitan area. Promoters of the scheme for the consistency of the Nouméa metropolitan area (SCAN) are well aware of this. The strengthening of the VKP (Voh-Koné-Poumbout) area with the opening of the northern factory is of major importance since it provides the opportunity to create a congruous, low-energy city right from the start, by planning ahead for urban development, construction and transport.

22In addition to land planning as such, environmental regulations should be laid down and implemented rapidly in the construction industry and for buildings. Due to the growth of its population and its housing needs, New Caledonia has an opportunity to implement the most recent techniques and designs in terms of energy conservation.

23The carbon footprinting of new urban areas, such as that of the concerted development zones of Panda and Dumbéa-sur-Mer, is a first step which shows the importance of such measures. The method used for those carbon footprints could be refined and adapted to the New Caledonian context, and systematically used as a prerequisite to the deployment of such projects.

24Another common objective of land-use planning is to combat population drains and keep people in their traditional environments. This was the option chosen in New Caledonia with investments aimed at improving living conditions in villages and tribes. The extension of the electricity network, which is well underway, supports this policy. It shows the advantages of promoting the pooling of resources and connecting new storage and production facilities.

Territorial climate plans: tools to promote development
The implementation of energy-climate plans was launched in metropolitan France as a means of providing local answers for energy savings and for combatting climate change, while taking into account the territories’ specific conditions. The Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) proposes a method for implementing such plans, already carried out in several large metropolitan urban areas (Nantes, Grenoble, Lyon, Paris, Rennes, etc.). The Grenelle de l’Environnement paves the way for its introduction into other overseas communities.
An energy-climate plan is based on an in-depth view of the energy profile of the territory concerned. It provides the opportunity to precisely evaluate the energy consumption and emissions of buildings and certain sectors (such as transport) or the workings of public services (schools, city halls, hospitals), and suggests improvements.
To ensure the consistency of the measures put forward, this process requires the participation of local stakeholders. In this respect, it is also a means of introducing the issues of energy consumption and climate change into public debates with the backing of diagnostics.
In Grenoble, for example, the climate plan was partly based on an energy assessment of the city conducted in 1999, to set priorities and specific lines of action. The commitments of the climate plan were taken up by the different local stakeholders (communities, OPAH, ADEME, electricity suppliers, etc.) for concerted action.
There are still few studies on the results gained through those measures in terms of a shift away from the trend of growing consumption. However, they are a step forward in integrating energy savings and the fight against climate change in land-use planning1.


25The energy options involve the setting-up of infrastructures for the production or distribution of energy, located on a given territory. These may consist of wind generators, copra or coal-fired plants, hydroelectric dams, powerline supports, a tree plantation to produce biomass, etc. Whatever the options chosen, they will take up a certain amount of land. In other words, their implementation will partly depend on the land access regulations and thus the land status.

26In New Caledonia, because of European colonisation, the land ownership issue is at the heart of major conflicts and strains, which have been examined in depth in numerous social science publications. Across the territory, there are three types of land statuses: private property, public property and customary land. Each of these statuses is governed by different property and access rules. Customary land, which is governed by custom, cannot be sold, exchanged, seized nor have any restriction imposed.

27The geographical distribution of these different types of land varies considerably from one province to another. In the Islands Province, 97 % of the land consists of customary land. There is no private property in the archipelago. Conversely, customary land only accounts for 9 % of the total in the South Province and 24 % in the North Province. On the scale of the whole territory, the biggest landowner is the Government of New Caledonia, which owns 47.9 % of the land.

28In the islands, all work and all installations will be on customary land, which implies a specific negotiation process: the authorisation of the “land masters” must be obtained. The problems with the operation of the copra plant of Ouvéa are partly due to the land ownership issue. The social studies conducted have shown that access to customary land posed no problem as long as there was no real economic stake involved. However, as soon as a project concerning tourism, agriculture or any other economic aspect involves major stakes, there is a lot of resistance and numerous barriers are presented. Nevertheless, some windfarms have been set up on customary land in the Loyalty Islands (Lifou) and in the north of Grande Terre. In Greater Nouméa, the link between the energy options and the land ownership issue is more dependent on the high price of land, which may hamper the implementation of projects and facilities.

29The land ownership issue is therefore of major importance. The board of experts was unable to analyse it in detail as this was outside the scope of its investigations; however, as a first approach, we could make the following assumptions for each of the three situations:

  • in rural areas, the amount of public land should allow the set-up of the main energy facilities (small dams, windfarms, solar power plants);
  • in the Greater Nouméa metropolitan area, the urban policy requires a land reserve policy along with the corresponding public action measures;
  • the issue of the production of biomass to generate energy remains the most problematic: the energy policy is linked to that of agricultural and forest production and the Territory’s autonomy.


The need for general principles to be translated into law

  • 2 The project concerning the multi-year planning of investments for the reform of the electricity se (...)

30The analysis of the sector and energy requirements has revealed the need to adopt general principles, as there are currently no consistent, comprehensive energy objectives set at the highest level in New Caledonia2. Envisaging a law laying down the basic energy principles and the objectives of New Caledonia’s energy policy, whatever its content, should be a first primordial step to give political impetus in a legally supported, consistent and well-thought-out framework. We should remember that the programme law of 2005, which sets out the basic principles of the French energy policy, is not applicable to New Caledonia.

31New Caledonia is the authority which has jurisdiction over the energy policy.. Consequently, we envisage two legal measures: the law of the country or a decision by Congress (the latter has a regulatory nature). The first seems the most apt to define such energy policy principles as the law would be adopted by Congress with the involvement of all stakeholders, and following the advice of the Council of State. However, the institutional act of 1999 stringently defined the list of domains in which a country law can intervene, and energy is not one of them.

32Two possibilities thus remain:

  • if it is possible to modify Institutional Act 99-209 concerning New Caledonia (something that the board of experts cannot appraise, but one can imagine that such a modification would be subject to a lengthy and complicated procedure), request the inclusion of energy in Article 99 of this Act laying down the list of domains for country laws, and within that new framework, pass a country law;
  • resort to a decision of Congress – which will not have the same legal power. However, the mining scheme was adopted in this way and seemed sufficient to secure the support of all stakeholders.

33This founding legal measure should of course be submitted for the approval of all local stakeholders and the public, for example through stakeholder conferences concerned with the preparation of the New Caledonia Development Plan. This would provide the opportunity for a debate involving the whole population, making it possible to inform and raise the awareness of all partners. It would be useful to supplement and reinforce the energy policy laid down with a New Caledonian energy code, based on the model used for the mining code.

34Taking account of what has been set out in the previous parts of the report, the general principles of the energy policy could hinge on three main objectives, which it would be good to quantify:

  • making housing and transport more eco-friendly and overseeing the energy efficiency of manufacturing industries;
  • producing all the energy consumed by private individuals and services locally;
  • preparing the international integration of New Caledonia, in particular through its gradual introduction into the combat against greenhouse gas emissions, via research and development agreements.
  • 3 Act 2009-967 of 3 August 2009 for the planning of the implementation of the Grenelle de l’Environn (...)

35We wish to point out that Article 56 of the bill for the planning of the implementation of the Grenelle de l’Environnement3 lays down general energy principles for New Caledonia. This provision is applicable to the State responsible for coordination, but it is not compulsory for New Caledonia. Article 56 lays down the following general principles:

  • “to become energy-sufficient, by attaining an objective of a minimum of 50 % renewable energies in end consumption by 2020;
  • to develop energy storage and network management technology to increase the proportion of intermittent renewable energy production in order to promote energy sufficiency for the overseas territorial communities;
  • to initiate an energy management programme which will translate into the adoption of an energy-climate plan in each community by 2012;
  • to adopt appropriate thermal regulations to promote solar water heating in new buildings and photovoltaic electricity in buildings needing air conditioning, which also promote the reduction of air conditioning in favour of insulation and natural ventilation and the production of photovoltaic electricity in buildings needing air conditioning, and mobilising competitive clusters concerned with the overseas energy challenges ;
  • to ensure all citizens’ equitable access to electricity in remote areas,, particularly for Guyana, taking the required adaptation measures; in Guyana, to extend the electricity transmission and distribution network, to promote and accelerate authorisations to connect centralised electricity production units.”

36New Caledonia can thus base itself on those general principles and/or define others, as this Article is not mandatory insofar as it is concerned. Indeed, it ends with the following words: “The State will ensure the consistency of its action with New Caledonia and its communities as well as the overseas communities governed by Article 74 of the Constitution, according to the general principals laid down in this Article”.

Education and awareness-raising actions to change current practices

37The large majority of the population, including decision-makers and elected representatives, have poor knowledge on energy matters. In the light of this situation, which is the norm in most of the world, we wish to put forward a few general principles to improve education on energy.

38Without wanting to condemn consumerist behaviour, we nevertheless have to insist on the fact that in New Caledonia, like in numerous countries, consumption patterns and greenhouse gas emissions are not going in the right direction to achieve the four-fold reduction currently considered as the desired objective (except in emerging countries). This necessary but difficultto-achieve objective requires in-depth changes in perceptions and behaviours, which we must strive to instil in people at a very early age. Hence, the importance of initiatives aimed at young people.

39We suggest the setting-up of easy-to-implement training and information actions at different levels and for different audiences. The first step could be the training of trainers and/or lecturers; teachers are probably in the best position to assume that role. The setting-up of these courses is evidently the most delicate stage, as it implies finding the appropriate incentives and identifying the initial trainers. A call for candidates could be launched at the initiative of the education office of New Caledonia.

40School programmes could then include a basic course on energy. The energy aspects covered by this course should also be included in a broader awareness-raising action on sustainable development, an issue which exceeds the scope of energy but of which it is a major component. The French initiative on the “topics of convergence4 “, instituted by the Ministry of Education in junior secondary schools, is an example to follow. It consists in disseminating, within standard subjects, a few important issues for the development of a civic culture, including energy.

41With regard to adult audiences, the best approach would probably involve public conferences and exhibitions presented by competent persons.

A few pointers

42We propose (see appendix on the CD-ROM) a body of knowledge concerning energy, within the context of sustainable development, which we feel must be looked into and adapted.

43The links between energy and sustainable development are strong and relevant to today. This is why we think that the prerequisite to a course in civic awareness is what we will simply call “global and temporal awareness”. The objective is simply to enable people to understand man’s place on earth and in the universe in a relative way, as well as man’s interactions with the planet.

44The temporal aspects are also important in order to understand how the atmosphere and our biosphere were formed and have evolved through a strong interaction between energy and raw materials, in which life has played a major role. Life, particularly plant life, has created the atmosphere for its own expansion. It has undergone various natural disasters – evolution is far from being a long calm river.

45On all those levels, the temporal perception of the evolution of life in general is a great help in understanding the concepts of evolution of the human population and climate change. It also makes it possible to put man’s place on earth in perspective. Basic physics concepts (understanding and differentiating energy and power) should be better known and therefore explained in any training initiative, as well as energy economics and energy savings, energy resources, environmental impacts and the eco-footprints of the various solutions.

46The vulnerabilities of a civilisation using too much energy are not properly understood: for this reason they need to be highlighted. The most fragile areas in a now globalised world are those of gas, electricity and the transport of goods.

47At any rate, it is essential for the people of the world to become aware of their environmental impact and the solidarity needed with respect to the fragility of their ecosystem.

Training in the relevant trades, support for the set-up of new businesses, and potential in terms of R&D requirements

48A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group showed that approximately 60 % of the jobs created by the measures announced for the whole of France within the scope of the Grenelle de l’Environnement, are in the construction industry, while the rest are in transport infrastructures and to a lesser extent in renewable energies. In the absence of an economic evaluation of potential measures, we imagine that the percentage in favour of the construction industry would probably be even higher in New Caledonia. This finding has led us to focus on the building trade.

Training of people in the building trade

49Energy efficiency is not only a question of techniques and technologies; its implementation requires knowledgeable, well-trained professionals. In fact, energy management involves a whole variety of fields: energy production, renewable energies, public lighting, insulation, doors/windows, solar protection, refrigeration, air conditioning, ventilation, electric appliances, maintenance, etc. In those fields, the acquisition of new skills is required at all operational levels.

What environmental skills need to be integrated in the planning phase?

  • On the urban scale, the concern for energy efficiency in buildings must be introduced in the earliest possible stage. The main concerns are of a structural nature: transport/housing issue, road layout /allocation of plots with respect to climate aspects. Urban planners must be assisted by consultants trained in urban environmental analysis and capable of simulating climatic impacts to better define optimal urban layouts and the best allocation of plots (services/residential). This environmental approach may be supplemented by a carbon footprint in the development of eco-districts (like what has been done, for example, in the concerted development zone of Dumbéa) making it possible to monitor the progress of the project at regular intervals. Concerning public lighting, the energy management principles must be integrated in lighting plans and specifications by lighting specialists trained in sustainable development.
  • In new buildings, the planning phase is crucial to set the energy and environmental objectives. Feasibility studies conducted by renewable energy specialists may help contracting authorities to make the best environmental decisions in a well-managed economic framework. The awarding of energy-efficient or eco-friendly labels calls upon certification auditors to check that the commitments undertaken by the contracting authorities have been honoured.
  • In existing buildings, introducing energy efficiency requires a prior energy audit to optimise operations and come up with the best scenarios in terms of energy and environmental rehabilitation. At present in New Caledonia, only one engineering office has been trained in this type of service, and four have signed the CTME charter. Given that the largest energy management potential is in existing buildings, this area is likely to develop considerably.

What environmental skills need to be integrated in the design and implementation phase?

  • The management of a building project involves a multidisciplinary team: architects, engineering offices, economists, landscape architects, etc. Under the impetus of bioclimatic and HQE schemes, contracting authorities and project managers understand the relevance of the integration of all these skills at a very early stage for the economic and environmental optimisation of the projects. To better assist architects, HQE specialists make it possible to standardise environmental management in the design and implementation phase. Beyond those organisational aspects, HQE specialists also assist the design team to optimise budgets concerning natural lighting, acoustics, relative humidity, energy consumption, water consumption, etc.
  • Major groups in the construction industry are well aware of the importance of energy and environmental factors ; consequently, they are currently taking the required steps to get their companies and sub-contractors qualified in eco-construction and eco-management techniques. They primarily target new construction projects.
  • Concerning companies involved in finishing work, which mainly consist of SMEs and tradesmen, the integration of environmental and energy aspects via specialised training is very rare. Yet, in the renovation sector, those SMEs and tradesmen will have a fundamental role to play. However, they are not yet prepared or trained in eco-renovation techniques, nor capable of providing a comprehensive and qualitative service offer combining several building trades. When it comes to energy efficiency, the compartmentalisation of trades is particularly prejudicial.

How to increase energy and environmental skills in New Caledonia

50Growing environmental awareness and the opportunity provided by the HQE standard to update practices are a means of bringing together the different building trades around new development prospects and reshuffle the cards in terms of skills.

51Thus, the carbon footprint training launched in 2007 by the ADEME enabled several firms to expand their services, and gave rise to considerable demand both from private enterprises and urban projects. The HQE information sessions and courses scheduled for September 2009 for contracting authorities and project managers are a good starting point to increase knowledge and boost the interest in HQE by those in the profession. This initiative must be followed up with further sessions depending on the demand from contracting authorities and project managers (architects and technical design offices), and most importantly it must extended to businesses.

52The training of businesses is a challenge of a considerable scale, given the large number of different types of trades. In the near future, skills in new technologies, knowledge of the most appropriate technical solutions, and cross-functional knowledge of energy topics, will be the most sought-after skills. Each tradesman will need to have knowledge of the other renovation areas (one of the aims of decompartmentalisation), and will act as a consultant with clients to adapt to new demands. To achieve those ambitious objectives, we need to mobilise professional associations such as trade unions, chambers of commerce and chambers of trade, as bodies offering support.

53Creating synergies between certain building trades is probably the most difficult challenge. For the residential air-conditioning installation trade, the experiences of Qualiclim in Guyana and Opticlim in Reunion Island serve as models, as they have improved the skills of installers.

54The CD-ROM contains a useful chart showing the current situation, along with the training, consolidation and support systems that we need to implement in the short and medium term.

Required access to R&D potential

55To achieve their energy and climate objectives, it is essential for New Caledonian stakeholders to have access to these new skills. From our point of view, several courses of action should be combined.

56It would be very useful to set up a monitoring system to keep track of the technologies identified within the scope of this report, on international experiences in economic, social and organisational aspects. The purpose of this system would be to update the knowledge gathered here while gradually mobilising New Caledonian experts. We also include in this system all knowledge gained from non-food biomass production experiments already carried out in New Caledonia.

57New Caledonia could also seek to participate in research programmes launched by agencies in France and other European countries, or in Australia and New Zealand on topics which may be of interest to it, but which are not specific to its territory. This concerns, for example, ANR projects such as Habisol (photovoltaic and solar housing), Stock-E (energy storage), EESI (energy efficiency of industrial systems). Such is already the case for a programme dedicated to research in the causes of forest fires.

  • 5 CSIRO is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia. It has sev (...)
  • 6 CO2CRC is the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC) which conducts (...)
  • 7 ANU: Australian National University, located in Canberra, Australia.

58This will make it possible to establish links with the Australian organisations visited in connection with this experts’ report: CSIRO5 Newcastle (energy efficiency, CO2 capture), CO2CRC6 (CO2 capture and storage), and solar energy at ANU7.

59In France, little research has been done in human and social sciences concerning energy, apart from the works of a few well-known economy specialists and a few laboratories (Grenoble, Montpellier), but this is a growing field. Nevertheless, there are certain areas of research that could be of benefit to New Caledonia, notably:

  • on the uses of energy which are evidently very poorly documented, starting with basic knowledge of household consumption according to different parameters (urban/rural, rich/poor, etc.). This is an essential aspect for any work on tariffs.
  • on conflicts and stances concerning energy: how do they arise, how do energy-related issues become areas of conflicts between different social groups?
  • on the regional situation and national positions concerning the topics of energy and climate.

60It would also be wise to propose New Caledonia as a research ground to agencies and organisations for work on specific topics. Thus, concerning geological storage, we propose that investigations be conducted on the potential of peridotites, further to the programmes already conducted (in France the ANR’s GeoCarbone programme ended in 2008, but there are numerous programmes on the international scale, in particular the CO2CRC in Australia).

61Lastly, we feel that three topics could warrant specific R&D investment for New Caledonia and give it an international reputation:

  • The construction of eco-friendly housing in the tropical context: eco-friendly materials, air-conditioning and energy (particularly in relation with the ANR’s Habisol programme).
  • Electrical network techniques and modes of organisation with a high proportion of renewable energies and intermittent production, in remote or insular communities of 1,000 to 500,000 people – technologies and modes of organisation are almost exclusively designed for large-scale distribution to hundreds of millions of people.
  • The production of food and non-food biomass (including from forests) in tropical situations of developed countries: agronomy, forestry, business economics, agricultural and forest policy. To this effect, representative experimental plots are required, to make it possible to determine the real capacities for producing and harvesting biomass in the New Caledonian conditions. This type of research can only be conducted in New Caledonia. This is why we are suggesting the allocation of human resources to this effect, for example at the Caledonian Agronomic Institute (IAC).

62In keeping with what has been done for the Public Interest Group of the National Centre of Technical Research “Nickel and its Environment” (CNRT), R&D bidding processes could be planned on those three topics. Moreover, this technical centre, whose objective is to enhance the use of New Caledonia’s mining resources in a perspective of sustainable development, could also have a facet focused on “energy efficiency for the nickel industry”. The ANR’s EESI Programme could be a support.

63On one of the topics presented above, we could contemplate the creation of a competitiveness cluster, bringing together research forces, businesses and possibly training organisations. However, we still need to examine whether existing forces are currently sufficient to undertake such a process.

Regulatory, pricing and tax-related instruments

Economic and regulatory instruments required to implement an energy and climate policy in New Caledonia

64The first recommendation in terms of energy policy instruments to control the energy demand consists in re-establishing a price signal which guides the choice of stakeholders (managers, industrialists, consumers, etc.) according to the actual cost of the different energy sources. In concrete terms, this means the total reworking of existing prices, to remove any price distortions or subsidies not warranted by the existence of environmental externalities.

65The removal of tax discrepancies between diesel oil and petrol is an example, if the price discrepancy is not justified by a difference in cost or environmental impact. Likewise, for electricity, the subsidies granted to certain user categories should progressively be reduced, as they dissuade investments in alternative technologies which would be preferable for the community as a whole; for example, electricity subsidies for the hotel trade are counter-productive in terms of inciting energy savings in that sector.

66In addition, within the framework of an energy policy taking account of the climate constraint, it is necessary to include in the price signal a “carbon value” component whereby the impact on climate change is taken into account in the different energy prices.

67The re-establishing of a price signal does not exclude the set-up of economic incentives to support emerging businesses or technologies, for instance when they reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and energy expenses and limit GHG emissions. In particular, we are thinking of direct subsidies or tax credits for relatively large investments, such as the thermal renovation of existing buildings or investments in technologies whose dissemination is still below the social optimum (e.g. solar panels).

68For equipment requiring more modest investments – low-energy lighting or energy-efficient household appliances – the energy labelling measures have proven effective. They can be combined with targeted discounts for the purchase of the most efficient appliances and subsequently be supplemented by minimum performance levels which progressively remove the most energy-inefficient appliances from the market (e.g. refrigerators in Europe).

69The question of the use of exchangeable Energy Savings Certificates (ESCs) was examined. Before resorting to an ESC system, measures could be taken such as imposing energy savings objectives to energy operators, yet without instituting a certificate system, which is relatively complicated to set up and manage.

70The following ideas should certainly be examined in further depth:

  • setting of specific objectives (quantities and pace of reduction) for energy operators, thereby involving them in energy savings initiatives;
  • cataloguing the different energy savings measures along with their impacts.
  • The set-up of an ESC system doesn’t seem indispensable for such measures. Moreover, feedback concerning those systems is still too limited to recommend this course of action for New Caledonia.

71Lastly, regulations are indispensable to improve the medium-term energy performance of residential and service sectors, as we know that the price signal on its own will not make it possible to achieve the desired energy performance level. Initially, regulations apply only to new construction work, but it could also be extended to renovation. Moreover, thermal performance standards could be imposed for the sale of property.

72In the field of transport, in addition to the rehabilitation of the fuel tax and introduction of a carbon tax, the tools considered in a first phase concern information and economic incentives: use of energy labels for vehicles, possibly combined with a bonus/penalty measure. On the medium term, it may be necessary to resort to additional programmes aimed at supporting or promoting the emergence of alternative means of transport resting on public funding (public transport on clean sites, cycling paths, etc.), voluntary measures (company transport plans) and/or regulations (urban transport plans).

73Concerning new energy sources, we feel that the adoption of a guaranteed price measure, combined with a purchasing obligation on the part of the distributor is the best option to promote mature technologies such as windpower, hydroelectricity and photovoltaic energy. The experience gained in Europe has shown that this measure can be particularly effective to support the development of renewable energy sources. This does not exclude capital assistance (such as tax incentives), but the economics of the projects must stem mainly from the purchase price per kWh. Capital assistance must remain a secondary incentive.

74The interest of this measure is that it makes it possible to adjust tariffs to give priority support to certain sectors. It is thus possible to institute a pur-chase price that would, for example, promote the integration of photovoltaic panels in buildings rather than solar power plants. In all cases, it is indispensable to define the price according to actual production costs, restrict the duration of purchase contracts (15 years, for example) and introduce a sliding scale for purchase prices.

75Purchase prices create economic conditions which are favourable to the development of investments in renewable energy production. However, they do not remove all barriers to this development, particularly network connection problems which must be dealt with through specific actions (regulations).

76For technologies such as ocean thermal energy conversion, geothermal energy or thermodynamic solar energy, more classic R&D programmes are an indispensable prerequisite. Energy stakeholders can take part in work conducted in New Caledonia, Australia or elsewhere, or at least keep track of developments. Following this, demonstration programmes are to be favoured. For offshore windpower and the production of electricity from biomass (if this last option was considered), guaranteed prices should only be stabilised after a first demonstration phase in order to validate the technological choices.

77For solar water heating, the international experience also suggests courses of action to support the development of the sector. In countries where this technology has become standard, the initial dissemination was supported by subsidies, in the form of direct aid or tax credits combined with additional measures such as subsidised-interest loans or sometimes third-party investor systems. Once economic conditions allow it, a regulatory measure can take over from financial incentives and impose the use of this technology in all new construction work or renovations if the technical characteristics allow it.

78The defining of objectives for each of those topics must be combined with a monitoring mechanism to track the efficiency of the actions undertaken and ensure that results comply with the objectives.


1 See

2 The project concerning the multi-year planning of investments for the reform of the electricity sector failed at the end of 2008; within the scope of a Congress decision defining New Caledonia’s energy policy, its content could be integrated.

3 Act 2009-967 of 3 August 2009 for the planning of the implementation of the Grenelle de l’Environnement (1). Article 56 is the article concerning New Caledonia, JORF no. 0179 of 5 August 2009 page 13031 text no. 2.

4 Concerning this initiative, see the website; for other educational applications in all skills sectors, see the website

5 CSIRO is the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia. It has several centres, including that of Newcastle which is dedicated to energy.

6 CO2CRC is the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC) which conducts cooperative research on the capture and geological storage of CO2 (Carbon capture and storage, or CCS).

7 ANU: Australian National University, located in Canberra, Australia.

Table des illustrations

Légende Figure 14. Standard representation of the dissemination processMaturity is defined according to the graph, adapted by Svi Griliches
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Titre Table 8 – The sectors and their technology options
Légende Technology maturity levels.
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Titre Table 9 – Qualitative cost/quantity analysis
Légende Each variable is estimated on a three-level scale: low, moderate, and high.
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Légende Figure 15. What are the priorities concerning energy and climate technologies in New Caledonia?The diagram shows the options in relation to the quantitative stakes they represent (energy saved or produced, GHG emissions avoided) and associated costs; for the sake of legibility, not all options are shown on the graph.Note: for further details, please refer to the useful information given in the CD-ROM "What framework for an energy and climate policy promoting the development of New Caledonia?"
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