Assessment of electricity supply-demand balance: A winter of careful vigilance


Ensuring security of electricity supply during the 2016-2017 winter season is likely to be more challenging than in previous winter periods due to the unavailability of several power generators. However, developments in renewable energy, import capacity, consumption curtailment solutions, and energy savings, will partially offset the overall decline in output from nuclear power plants.  

Wind and solar capacity increased by 12% in a year (18,000 MW installed capacity).

A 30% capacity expansion of cross-border trading, in the space of one year, makes it possible to import up to 12,200 MW of electricity produced abroad (provided the availability of generation capacity).

Capacity for consumption curtailment - whereby industrial customers offer to reduce or postpone their energy consumption - remains stable at 3000 MW.

In the event of significant and sustained cold spells, below seasonal norms, RTE may need to deploy exceptional measures to secure power supplies to the French population during weekday mornings (8am-1pm) and/or evenings (6pm-8pm).

These exceptional measures would be phased in gradually. First, the interruptibility contracts allow RTE to cut off 21 volunteer large power-consumers and potentially decrease electricity demand by 1500 MW instantly. RTE can then lower voltage by 5%, thus reducing consumption by 4000 MW (equivalent to the combined electricity consumption of inner Paris and of Marseilles) without interrupting the power supply to the French population. In the event of extreme imbalance between supply and demand, and as an ultimate solution, RTE can resort to programmed, temporary and rotating load-shedding, thereby maintaining an electricity supply to as many customers as possible.

To enable every consumer to contribute to security of supply, on 5 December RTE will launch a new ‘citizens’ warning system designed to reduce the risk of power cuts at peak demand times (8am-1pm and 6pm-8pm). In the event of higher pressure on the power system due to unavailabilities in the power generation fleet and low temperatures, the ECO2-mix website - tracking the country’s real-time energy mix - will issue warnings encouraging consumers to cut their energy use by taking simple measures: running appliances (washing machines, dishwashers, etc.) during off-peak periods, lowering room temperature settings by 1° to 2°C before leaving their homes, switching lights off in unoccupied rooms, and so on. These warnings will be available on smartphone and tablet, and on the website

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