Promoting load modulation
Encouraging flexible consumption
Load flexibility is key to the success of the energy transition. The European Union has set itself the objective of improving energy efficiency by 20% by 2020. In France, electricity demand has increased by 25% within the space of 10 years. Demographic expansion, along with new uses of electricity and electrical heating, are resulting in greater load peaks. Against this backdrop, the balance between supply and demand must be maintained in spite of increasing complexity due to the advent of renewable energies, the generation of which varies significantly. The solution? Developing a grid for smart power featuring more advanced communication and technology. The aim: more flexible, responsive and time-adjusted electricity flows.
Attenuating peaks in demand
Every day, our efforts to balance supply and demand require us to handle output fluctuations while also forecasting load peaks. Over the previous decade, we have noted an increase in daily winter-time load peaks in France, which is two to three times faster than that of annual power consumption. Our consumption does vary significantly depending on temperature. In winter, every time there is a one-degree drop in temperature, we consume 2 400 more megawatts (MW), tantamount to twice the power consumed by the city of Marseille. In February 2012, we hit a record load peak of 102 100 MW. We have devised a number of tools to reduce these peaks. ÉcoWatt is an early-warning system which sends out e-mail or SMS warnings to users every winter just before peaks in demand. The system is used in Brittany and in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, the two French regions where power supply is the most precarious.
Smart tools for more flexible consumption…
RTE designed the capacity mechanism at the request of the public authorities and in conjunction with transmission system stakeholders. It is putting together the 2020 market model by encouraging investment in generation and demand side management systems. This will provide security of supply and will support the energy transition at the lowest cost to the community.
Since July 2014, industrial consumers have been able to modulate their consumption in order to provide RTE with reserve capacity. Up until now, this option was only available to power generation facilities. This mechanism gives energy savings a market value and is a potential source of revenue and competitive strength for certain businesses connected to the transmission system.
Our market tools are proving to be effective drivers of the energy transition as they promote smooth electricity flows, support our customers' security of supply and guide transmission system stakeholders in their investment options, whether these be generation or demand side management systems.
Flow modulation initiatives also require us to provide consumers with the information they need to reduce their consumption accordingly. Encouraging "eco practices" is a societal commitment.
Accessible from tablets and smartphones, the éCO2mix website provides a region-by-region and industry-by-industry breakdown of supply and demand.
…on a European scale
The increasingly complex use of the transmission system requires greater coordination among European transmission system operators. Indeed, the high impact that cold weather has on power consumption is typically French. During the cold snap in February 2012, heating accounted for almost 40% of French power consumption. In winter, a one-degree centigrade drop across the European continental shelf results in a 5 000-MW increase in consumption, tantamount to the total amount of power consumed by central Paris and Lyon combined. Based on this additional consumption, France accounts for half of European demand sensitivity to temperature.
Renowned for its innovative strength and R&D capacity, RTE plays a driving role in the development of European projects overseen by the European Commission. In addition to our domestic projects, we also take part in larger-scale initiatives together with ENTSO-E, the European network of transmission system operators.