Electricity is a form of energy that can be produced in a variety of ways, and is used to power electrical appliances and devices. The electricity market is organized around four main areas: generation, supply, transmission and distribution.
On July 1, 2007, the French electricity and natural gas markets were fully opened up to competition. This enabled new players to enter the market and compete with incumbent leaders such as EDF, which held a virtual monopoly on its own (some local public companies were nevertheless authorized to continue operating as Entreprises Locales de Distribution (ELD)).
To enable free competition, it was necessary to separate the activities. As EDF was involved from generation to supply of electricity, it was necessary to separate the different activities in order to open up certain parts to competition. From this, 4 activities emerged:
- generation: the power plants that produce electricity
- transmission : the transport of the electricity produced, high voltage
- distribution: the second part of transport, from low voltage to the distribution of this electricity to the various points of use
- sale or supply : the wholesale purchase of electricity, followed by resale at the various points of consumption
In France, electricity transmission still operates as a monopoly and is handled by RTE (Commission de Régulation de l'Energie), an EDF subsidiary. Electricity distribution is also close to a monopoly, as it is mainly handled by Enedis, another EDF subsidiary, but also by other local distribution companies.
Electricity generation and supply, on the other hand, are open to competition. Several companies are involved in both activities, including EDF, Direct Energie and Engie.
Sales in the French electricity market are on the rise, even though electricity consumption is stagnating. Electricity production reached 531 billion kilowatt-hours in 2021. This situation is mainly due to rising electricity prices. While opening up to competition was supposed to bring prices down, rising costs and limited access to raw materials have led to higher tariffs.
This rise in prices has been reinforced by the development of green energies and more efficient, environmentally-friendly offerings. Indeed, the energy transition has become the central issue for the sector, and represents a potential for future growth.
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