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CNR is the concessionary of the River Rhone for the production of hydroelectricity, river transport and agricultural use, and it is France’s leading producer of exclusively renewable energy. A developer of territories, CNR plays a key role in energy transition. Its expertise in the entire value chain of hydro-, solar and wind power and its missions in the general interest make it a major partner in the development and balance of the territories. Its knowhow is also acknowledged internationally.

The “Rhone development” law extends CNR’s concession until 2041

Promulgated on March 1, 2022, the “Rhône Development” law of February 28, 2022 extends CNR’s concession until 2041. It consolidates and modernizes CNR’s model for the integrated management of the Rhône River, in the trajectory of ecological transition territories and France’s carbon neutrality by 2050. This law translates into several commitments, representing an investment of more than 1 billion euros, to meet the energy and ecological challenges of the territories.

“This law is the result of a close relationship forged over many years with our stakeholders, consultation with the elected representatives of the territory and long work with the State services.” Laurence Borie-Bancel

Within the framework of this law, several developments are to be noted, in particular:

A 500 billion euro works program

This program includes the following achievements:

  • The studies and the possible realization of a new hydroelectric development in the sector of Saint-Romain-de-Jalionas
  • The construction of 6 small hydroelectric power stations (PCH) and 6 fish passes (PAP)
  • The doubling of the downstream gates of the Bollène and Châteauneuf-du-Rhône locks
  • The increase in production capacity at the Montélimar plant with the replacement of 3 units out of 6 in particular

Perimeter extensions

Several sections and structures of the Rhône river public domain, connected to the current conceded domain, have been added to the perimeter of the extended Rhône concession. This concerns about 80 km of river and 3000 hectares. The objective is to standardize the management of the Rhône Valley, secure the entire navigable line and enhance the integrated river public domain.

Projects for the territories

The new master plan makes it possible to continue and strengthen CNR’s missions of general interest as a developer of the Rhône Valley. The MIGs thus become the 5Rhône Plans, in the form of five-year programs, up to 165 million euros every 5 years, and within the framework of reinforced governance. They will be applied to the territories bordering the river through 5 components (compared to 4 previously): production of hydraulic electricity and other energy uses, navigation and river transport, irrigation and other agricultural jobs, environment and biodiversity, additional actions in connection with the territories.​​​​​​​

A reason to be reaffirmed

CNR has defined its raison d’être in 2020, by condensing in a few words what makes its uniqueness and richness and gives it its collective dynamic.

The Rhone for origin, the territories for partners, renewable energies for the future.

The CNR model, industrial and of general interest, is based on its legitimacy as an actor in the energy world, close proximity to the regions and its ability to redistribute the value created. Concessionaire of the Rhone River and producer, in France, of 100% renewable energy “water-wind-sun”, CNR is positioned as a major player in regional planning, adaptation to climate change and ecological transition.

Through its raison d’être, CNR also expresses its long-term roots, both faithful to its origins and turned towards the future. Attached to its history, respectful of the heritage left by successive generations of employees, CNR nevertheless projects itself into the future, driven by a culture of innovation. Its raison d’être also reflects its trajectory as a company in transition, eager to adapt to a changing energy world, capable of offering concrete solutions to climate and ecological crises.

CNR has incorporated its raison d’être into its articles of association, thus devoting its long-term commitment to serving the collective interest.

Action based on three missions for the benefit of the community

After it was founded in 1933, CNR was entrusted with the concession of the Rhone in 1934, to develop and exploit it in view to fulfilling three missions for the benefit of the community:

  • electricity production,
  • navigation,
  • the irrigation of agricultural land.

To achieve these missions, CNR has designed and built 19 hydropower plants, 19 dams and 14 locks, opened 330 km of navigable waterway between Lyon and the Mediterranean, and developed industrial and port sites. Solidarity lies at the heart of CNR’s actions and it is actively involved in the development of renewable energies (hydroelectricity, solar energy and wind power), in support of territorial development and energy transition.

A model company

Balanced capital, wealth distributed to the territories, values shared by all: CNR stands out as a model of a virtuous company on several levels. Since 2003, its share capital has been evenly distributed between public and private interests. Public shareholders hold the majority (50.03%) with the Groupe Caisse des Dépôts (33.2%) and local authorities (16.83%). Regarding its private shareholder, the remaining 49.97% of the shares are owned by ENGIE, a world leader in energy.

Thanks to its missions in the general interest, CNR works for the well-being of the territories, with which it works directly, redistributing part of the wealth created from the energies generated (water, wind, sun) in them.

An actor committed to energy transition

CNR actively participates in energy transition: from now to 2020, its installed capacity in wind power and solar power should reach 4,000 MW. CNR aims to continue as a European leader in renewable energies and become a corporate laboratory for tomorrow’s energies. To do this it invests in innovation with a large number of projects (link to the Innovations page) in:

  • the hydrogen sector,
  • intermittent energy storage,
  • innovative production methods: floating solar power plants, long arrays of panels installed on the crests of dikes, agri-solar systems.

Aware that the combat against climate change with higher temperatures is the major challenge to be overcome, CNR has made 9 strategic commitments. They contribute towards shaping tomorrow’s European energy landscape and answering the question: how can successful energy transition be ensured?

Priority given to the general interest

The water of the Rhone has always been a common good. That’s why, since CNR was founded, the revenues generated by harnessing the river must benefit all the territories. A rational of general interest reasserted by CNR in 2004 with its missions in the general interest. This has resulted in more than 700 projects carried out in renewable energies, river transport, tourist development and river tourism, and sustainable agriculture. Thanks to its missions in the general interest, the users of the river, the neighbouring population and all the actors involved, are brought together around the common good represented by the Rhone to forge positive impetus for economic development, innovation, employment in the Rhone Valley and energy transition. (link to the MIG page)

A partner close at hand for the territories

To ensure it remains aware of the reality of the territories crossed by the Rhone and work in close collaboration with them, CNR has installed 4 territorial delegations: Haut-Rhône, Rhône Médian Nord, Rhône Médian Sud and Rhône aval. This organisation ensures its presence throughput the Rhone Valley and facilitates local dialogue. These roots within the territories and its collaborative approach to working with its different partners has allowed CNR to build an environment of collective intelligence capable of fostering innovative projects adapted to territorial realities.

Unique and internationally acknowledged expertise

CNR means 85 years’ experience on the Rhone. The knowhow of its teams covers the entire value chain, including studies, designs, operation, overhauling the installations and selling the electricity produced. This unique expertise is exported to other countries around the world to assist projects requiring the very best in hydroelectric engineering, and river and environmental engineering.

Thinking about the future of rivers

CNR instigated the founding of Initiatives for the Future of Great Rivers (IFGR), a non-governmental organisation in the service of the general interest. It brings together a panel of actors who give a voice to rivers. They are river managers, representatives of institutions (basin agencies, national supervisory bodies) and experts (climatologist, anthropologist, economist, historian, etc.). IFGR provides an original forum that is international, multidisciplinary, open to stakeholders and oriented towards action on behalf of the rivers of the world as a whole.

Visit the IFGR website