Why electricity pylons tend to disappear in cities

Why electricity pylons tend to disappear in cities

2023-09-22 17:29:40

Armed with saber saws, they cut the head of the steel structure, before a crane takes over. Perched 20 meters high, the “linemen” made their last victim on Thursday in Nantes. In a few years, these technicians have in fact sent no less than 52 electricity pylons to the scrap dealer, in a large area in the east of the city. With the objective of burying five high and very high voltage lines (63,000 and 225,000 volts), i.e. 14 km of cables which are passed underground.

The operation, led by RTE, is not unique in France, far from it. Because in recent years, electricity pylons seem to have become cumbersome for certain urban areas. In Ile-de-France for example, six of them have just disappeared from the landscape, with the burial of 15 km of lines. A colossal but essential project for the construction of the square of the future Athletes’ village, which will be spread over several municipalities in Seine-Saint-Denis, in view of the 2024 Olympic Games. “Ultimately, it will free up 80 hectares of land in Saint-Denis, L’île-Saint-Denis and Villeneuve La Garennne for numerous development projects,” explains RTE.

Dismantling of the last pylon in Nantes on September 21, 2023 – Valery Joncheray

Free up land

In Nantes too, the challenge is the search for land to urbanize. For 15 million euros (including 3 financed by RTE), it is the metropolis which asked to clear the way for the development of the future Doulon-Gohards district, where 2,700 housing units must grow by 2035. A little further on, the Paridis commercial area was liberated from its poles, before its major metamorphosis. But the operation would also pay off in the shorter term, since it “contributes to improving the living environment of residents and has made it possible to develop facilities at their service”, welcomes Tristan Riom, vice-president in charge of climate. and energy, citing the neighborhood center or the ongoing expansion of the Beaujoire school.

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A Angers, workers are hard at work in the Saint-Serge district, where the removal of 12 pylons will help transform this very mineral activity zone into “an active and attractive showcase for the heart of the Angevin conurbation”, with potential of 700 m2 to revegetate. A delicate and costly operation each time which also makes it possible to overcome the specific regulations governing high-voltage overhead lines, but above all to anticipate the growing needs of the population.

“It’s not the end of the air”

“It is necessary to rethink our entire network to support electricity consumption which will significantly increase these next few years, estimates Carole Pitou-Agudo, RTE delegate in the West. In addition, we gain in power quality because the buried lines are no longer subject to lightning or trees. »

However, these structures, which in fact play a supporting role, will always be visible in the French sky. “If we are tending towards a scarcity in the city, this is not the end of airlines elsewhere,” continues Carole Pitou-Agudo. We are pampering the existing ones and will build others elsewhere, particularly in large industrial zones which are currently seeking to decarbonize their processes. »

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