RTE Smart Innovation Challenge

Innovate in the Electricity Network sector!


How to manage and value our waste?

Building and renovating linear electricity transmission infrastructure produces waste. RTE aims to reduce the quantity of waste produced on its sites as far as possible through innovation in its waste management practices. The group wants to overcome a number of challenges in years to come, including:

  • Implementing alternatives to backfilling in quarries to make the best use of the unpolluted material excavated from sites,
  • 100% recovery of overhead line insulators formed of different materials that are hard to separate, such as glass, porcelain and cast iron,
  • Recovery of road surface layers (concrete + tarmac) in situ (at the work site)
  • Or recovery or re-use of wooden (low-tension) cable reels other than via energy recovery.

Use these challenges as inspiration for solutions that could help RTE to improve how it manages waste. If you have other ideas, feel free to focus on them!


How can residents affected by works and renovations be consulted more easily?

During projects, RTE engages in dialogue with stakeholders in the region in question (residents, elected representatives, socioeconomic stakeholders and associations in particular) to keep them informed about the project, the needs it addresses and its effects on the environment, in addition to ensuring the public are involved. This dialogue can be established in a number of ways (including public meetings, consultation workshops, door-to-door discussions, and creating dedicated information resources).

However, RTE's experience, shared by other regional development stakeholders, shows that there are a number of difficulties when implementing these approaches, in particular when dialogue is hijacked by a minority, preventing proper diversity of opinion. In such a situation, which new information and consultation tools could be developed in order to allow all stakeholders to take part more broadly and more constructively in the various stages of the project?

For this theme, we recommend that you think 2.0! But don't forget to make sure your project keeps the human touch that's needed when building a relationship built on trust.


How can value be created from by-products?

In recent years in France, approaches based on industrial and regional ecology (Écologie Industrielle et Territoriale; EIT) have been taken in order to limit pollution, resource harvesting, waste production and consumption. These approaches have resulted in actions such as the sharing and pooling of resources and of the means of production, shared waste management or recovery, and energy exchange and re-use. In other words, the waste products and by-products from RTE's customers' activities become a valuable resource for other companies and local authorities.

In this context, RTE is inviting you to consider possible ways of creating value from industrial by-products.

To help guide you in your approach, we suggest that you focus on recovering unavoidable heat, which has become a major challenge in any approach based on ecological transition. Unavoidable heat is the heat lost during industrial processes and which is not always recovered. What can be done so it is not lost? What other use could it be put to? Who or what could it be used to help (areas that use heat, social landlords, local authorities, swimming pools, agriculture, remote customers, etc.)?

Priority will be given to solutions that are accessible, economically profitable and adaptable to a wide range of customers or regions.

Learn more about RTE's Clients: link


How can we enhance our current infrastructures?

"This is not a grid"


This theme is mainly aimed at creative people! Just like Magritte's famous painting 'The Treachery of Images', we're asking you to create a new interpretation for the linear electricity transmission infrastructure (pylons, overhead power lines and the footprint of these lines).

Present throughout the country, high-voltage and extra-high-voltage overhead lines criss-cross through rural and urban landscapes and are often highly visible. What could be done to help these lines 'blend in', giving industrial infrastructure new and imaginative uses?

This is a call for creative projects using RTE infrastructure! Artworks, landscape, architectural and urban development interpretations, proposals that help the region the lines cross, technological innovations that create new services through our facilities… we're looking for suggestions that show openness and diversity!



How can birds be protected from electricity grids?

With its 100,000 kilometres of high-voltage and extra-high-voltage overhead lines, RTE has an important duty to fulfil in protecting birds and the environment. Currently, a number of bird-scaring systems and visibility tags are used on the electricity transmission grid to minimize the risk of bird collision and electrocution.

For example, RTE uses a number of different systems to discourage birds from resting on pylons, such as spikes or anemometers. Other systems involve scaring the birds, but why not take things further, developing mobile dummy birds of prey to scare them away or using special paint to repel them? We want you to think up other ways of scaring birds away.

In addition, we regularly install tags on our power lines to warn birds of the presence of cables, but there is no reliable way to estimate their true effectiveness. Why not go one step further and develop new ways to automatically detect birds and how they behave near our lines, or what about a new collision indicator that counts the number of collisions?

These are just examples – if you have other solutions that tackle this issue, we'd love to hear them!


How can the noise made by electricity transmission be reduced?

RTE has committed to constantly improving its environmental performance and to listening to local residents in order to better take their needs into account. Among other things, this includes the need to reduce noise linked to electricity transmission.

Have you ever noticed it? Under certain conditions, high-voltage overhead power lines can give off a slight crackling noise. This noise – often quiet – is due to the phenomenon known as 'corona discharge', which is accentuated by dust, plant debris and droplets of water on the surface of the conducting cables.

What solutions/ideas could be implemented on electricity lines or in transformer stations to limit these sounds? Are there other ways to prevent or correct these noises?