Located in the South-west Indian Ocean, La Réunion is one of the 9 European Outermost Regions. In the last decades, this 2 500 km² island has witnessed a tremendous economic and demographic growth and is currently inhabited by 872 000 people. Consequently, the energy consumption has grown from 795 to 2724 GWh between 1990 and 2020. The electricity mix, which was 98% hydropower in 1982 now depends on fossil fuels (coal and diesel) and biomass, which account for 80% of the production.
To counteract the growing dependency on fossil fuels, regional authorities have encouraged energy transition, for the last 15 years, leading to the significant growth of renewable energies, especially solar technologies, which now represent 23% of the total installed capacity of energy production (908,5 MW). In 2020, 31,3% of the electricity production came from renewable sources.
Role in RIPEET
Joining RIPEET community constitutes a powerful lever to support the regional ambition and vision for both energy transition and research and innovation. In terms of energy transition, the ambition is to reach 100% renewable electricity in 2030. To that end, one of the key objectives is to accelerate the decentralisation of the energy system through the development of micro-grid and local energy communities. This requires a renewed, shared governance of the regional energy system with a strong involvement of and empowerment of organisations representative of the quadruple helix as well as the general public.
To actualise this ambition and transform a complex system, La Réunion need to lift three major bottlenecks, with the help of RIPEET community:
Reform the governance of the energy system
Reinforce regional capacities, notably to integrate responsible research and innovation standards in the design and implementation of energy policies
Reinforce participation in the European Research Area and connections with European stakeholders to facilitate knowledge flows / transfers, reach critical masses and co-design innovative solutions.
About the region
Through the 2021-2027 energy transition research and innovation roadmap, the main regional organisations representative of the quadruple helix already constitutes an operational consortium.
Will be brought to RIPEET community:
- The Regional Council, represented by Prof. Jean-Pierre Chabriat, senior researcher in energetic and elected official in charge of Energy Transition and Research and Tertiary Education policies. The Regional Council holds the responsibility to design and implement local energy transition policies.
- The regional Energy Agency, SPL Horizon, which supports the Regional Council in the development of regional policies and manages the regional energy governance.
Energy Lab working on the optimisation of electrical energy in critical ecosystems and more specifically on modelling and managing sunlight resources in tropical areas, energy storage and conversion and energy optimization of sensor networks; PIMENT (Laboratory of Physics and Mathematical Engineering for Energy, the Environment and Buildings), composed of 63 researchers focusing on energy-efficient buildings in tropical areas and the development and integration of renewable energies.
- The regional innovation agency, Nexa, which supports the Regional Council in research and innovation policies, manages the RIS3 and La Réunion European Office to reinforce the participation in the European Research Area and Horizon Europe
- 2 research labs from the University of La Réunion (UR), focusing on Energy Transition:
- 2 social sciences research labs from UR dealing with energy transition governance and policies: CEMOI (Indian Ocean Centre of Economics and Management) which analyses the economic obstacles and levers of energy transition in island context ; CRJ (Legal Research Centre) which tackles the legal obstacles and levers of energy transition.
- Regional companies through: TEMERGIE, the regional business cluster for Energy transition; ADIR (association for the industrial development)
- Energy operators: EDF, the regional DSO; SIDELEC, a public inter-municipality cooperation establishment for electricity distribution.
Energy best practices implemented by the region
- SLIME (Local scheme for energy efficiency): developed by the Regional Council, the energy agency Horizon Réunion and supported by the electricity supplier EDF, this program targets fuel-poor households. Working closely with social centres, social housing providers, Horizon Réunion identifies fuel-poor families, conducts a diagnosis, identifies solutions and supports families to implement daily and simple measures to reduce energy usage at home. Up to now, more than 30,000 households in Reunion Island have benefited from SLIME.
- ECOSOLIDAIRE: developed by the Regional Council and implemented by Horizon Réunion, with the support of European structural funds and EDF, this grant supports low-income households to acquire solar heating systems. The main objectives are to reduce energy poverty and the financial burden in families, but also to reduce energy demand by replacing electric and gas water heaters. Up to now, more than 8 500 households have benefited from this grant.
- Photovoltaic vouchers: developed by the Regional Council and implemented by Horizon Réunion, this aid is granted to any individual and firm buying a photovoltaic plant from a partner institution. According to the production and storage capacities, the subsidies range from 1 000 to 6 000 €. Up to now, more than 2300 households have benefited from this scheme.