Will there be power outages this winter? For Emmanuel Macron, the French must “be at the rendezvous of sobriety” to avoid shortages. From this perspective, some departments are more at risk than others.
For the manager of the Electricity Transport Network (RTE), the power cuts that could occur this winter are the consequences of the addition of several elements. In particular “the supply of gas, the energy situation in neighboring European countries, the evolution of demand, and the rate of restarting of French nuclear reactors.” Indeed, thirty-two nuclear reactors are shut down for maintenance operations or due to corrosion problems. An additional factor, the conflict in Ukraine led by Russia has a strong impact on Russian gas deliveries to Europe. These deliveries are important because some European power plants use gas to run their turbines and thus produce electricity.
A scale in the risks of shortage
RTE tested and compared several hypotheses related to the level of energy production and weather conditions to assess the risk of power cuts. The French manager, who gives clarifications on his website, wants to be reassuring on the whole, for him “in no case does France run a risk of ‘black-out’, that is to say of loss total control of the electrical system”. On the other hand, it is specified that “the vast majority of risk situations would be in the morning between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. and in the evening between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.”. The RTE also specifies that in the event of high tension on the electricity network “the risk of cuts cannot be completely excluded but it could be avoided by lowering national consumption by 1 to 5% in the majority of cases, and up to 15% in the most extreme weather situations.”
The head of the public electricity transmission network has demonstrated pedagogy by expanding its EcoWatt system (www.monecowatt.fr) which is a “real electricity weather forecast”. Ecowatt qualifies in real time the level of consumption in France region by region which allows to know if consumption is normal, tense or very tense. In the event of a very tense electrical system, cuts will be “inevitable” if there is not a “drop in consumption”.
Which departments would be most affected by a shortage?
Despite the systems put in place, certain areas of France are considered “energy peninsulas”: “They are less interconnected to the network and have almost no means of production of their own”, explains Clément Le Roy to France info, partner in charge of energy at Wavestone. Among these regions, he cites Brittany and the PACA region. The following departments would therefore be impacted in priority:
- Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04)
- Hautes-Alpes (05)
- Alpes-Maritimes (06)
- Bouches-du-Rhone (13)
- Cotes-d’Armor (22)
- Finistere (29)
- Ille-et-Vilaine (35)
- Morbihan (56)
- Var (83)
- Vaucluse (84)
Some fear a disparity in treatment between cities and the countryside. Asked by France info, Bruno Millienne, MoDem deputy and vice-president of the sustainable development commission at the National Assembly, is concerned that cities are privileged during this energy crisis. “It would be the worst solution. We cannot treat urbanites and non-urbanites differently.” Some cities like Paris have already announced measures to save energy, the Eiffel Tower will turn off at 11 p.m. Many other monuments will turn off 1 hour earlier, from 10 p.m., such as the Town Hall, the fourteen municipal museums (Petit Palais, Carnavalet in particular).
What solutions to avoid cuts?
It is not just the capital that has announced measures to combat the energy crisis. In Lille, many public buildings are no longer lit at night. The University of Strasbourg is also facing the crisis. The president of the University, Michel Deneken, indicated on YouTube, to the students and professors, that“a third week of Christmas leave at the beginning of January and a full week of distance learning courses in February” were going to be put in place. Faced with the crisis, the University of Rennes 1 (Ille-et-Vilaine) announced a deficit budget for 2023. In a press release, the management launched a call for ideas “so that everyone can express themselves on the individual or collective actions to be deployed at the level of their office, laboratory, department, building or the entire establishment.” Particularly energy-intensive when heated, the swimming pools of certain cities are also mobilized. Some are called upon to close this winter or lower the water temperature by a few degrees.
On Wednesday September 21, the National Federation of French Cinemas published on its website a charter listing the measures to be taken into account for member cinemas. “Faced with the energy crisis affecting Europe, cinemas are committed to reducing their energy consumption from now on by implementing simple and practical measures allowing immediate savings in electricity and gas while continuing to welcome spectators in the best conditions”. Among the key measures, a maximum heating of 19°c or even a regulation of opening hours according to the flow of the public, which suggests a reduction in the number of sessions.