The current fall in electricity consumption in France could be neutralized by a lower than expected availability of the nuclear fleet.
While the decline in French electricity consumption has accelerated since September, vigilance over supply remains in order for the coming months. “Until further notice, we remain in a situation of particular vigilance with some red Ecowatts in winter which are likely“, declared this Monday, Xavier Piechaczyk, chairman of the executive board of RTE.
As a reminder, the Ecowatt tool, designed as a “energy weather» and set up by RTE with the Environment and Energy Management Agency (Ademe), allows users to see in real time the level of electricity available in the country thanks to a signal in three colors: green (normal), orange (tense) and red (very tense). In red, the signal is synonymous with inevitable cuts if nothing is done to lower or shift consumption.
“The fact that France consumes less gives us a little leeway“, recognizes however Xavier Piechaczyk. Indeed, according to the latest figures published by RTE last week, electricity consumption in France has fallen by 6.8%, for the past month, compared to previous years (2014-2019), excluding the health crisis. However, this decline is mainly driven by large manufacturers: “The decrease in their consumption is around 15%. This is not necessarily good economic news since it is linked to a reduction in productionsays the Chairman of the RTE Board, while specifying that a reduction in consumption is also beginning to appear among individuals and in the tertiary sector.
However, the effects of this drop could be wiped out by lower than expected production. “The nuclear fleet is likely to be even less available than expected», warns the chairman of the executive board of RTE, who has been anticipating an availability of around 45 gigawatts out of 61 since mid-September. This projection is updated monthly by the electricity operator. His next publication will be unveiled this Friday.
An update on security of supply which will also take into account the latest weather forecasts for the coming weeks. “We have fairly reliable forecasts for 3 or 4 weeks. For the moment, it will be relatively mild until the end of November“says Xavier Piechaczyk.
It is rather on the rest of the winter that uncertainty is still in order. “If it’s hot, the French won’t hear of Ecowatt rouge. If it’s really cold, we’ll hear a lot about it“, he explains. For the moment, 300,000 French people have subscribed to SMS alerts from the Ecowatt tool and 50,000 have downloaded the application. Still a low number.