No change in breakdown by sector


The breakdown of consumption by sector was comparable to 2017. It should be noted that the slight decrease in consumption in heavy industry followed significant social movements in the rail transport

The breakdown of consumption by sector on RTE’s transmission networks (excluding EDF-SEI and LDCs) and the Enedis distribution network was comparable to 2018.

Final electricity consumption was highest in the business and professionals segment (47%), followed by residential (nearly 36%) and then heavy industry (17%).

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Who are RTE’s customers ?

RTE works on behalf of society and its own customers – producers and distributors of electricity, industrial firms and traders – to offer solutions that help keep power system costs in check and thus preserve economic activity.

As the transmission system operator, RTE plays a central role in the power system and is responsible for ensuring that generation always matches demand. It works around the clock, seven days a week, to direct electricity flows and optimise the functioning of the power system for its customers and society at large. RTE carries electricity to all parts of France, from generation sites to the industrial sites that are directly connected to its network and to the distribution grids that deliver it to final consumers.

Slight decline in consumption on the distribution networks


Adjusted consumption (adjusted for weather), including losses, has been stable for the past seven years for SME/SMIs, professionals, businesses and residential customers connected to the distribution grid, albeit with a 0.5% decline between 2018 and 2019.

The application of directives and regulations on the energy efficiency of equipment contributed to this trend. Another factor was slower growth in the share of new buildings heated with electricity following the application of the 2012 Building Energy Regulation.

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Contraction in demand in heavy industry


Electricity consumption by industrial users* directly connected to the public transmission network reached 64.3 TWh*, which was 3% lower than in 2018. This decrease was driven by the steel, paperboard, car manufacturing and rail transport segments.

* including own consumption but excluding losses and the energy sector, seasonally adjusted

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Supply to industrial users interrupted twice in 2019 via interruptibility programme

Since electricity is difficult to store, the transmission network must ensure that supply and demand are balanced at all times. Network frequency is a reflection of this balance. If demand exceeds supply, frequency decreases. Conversely, when generation outpaces demand, frequency increases.

France’s interruptible load programme, defined by law and implemented by RTE in 2014, makes it possible to immediately interrupt participating large power customers, which participate voluntarily and are compensated for this service. Automatically activated when system frequency falls below a certain threshold, the programme helps restore frequency balance by reducing consumption. Twenty-two industrials sites currently participate in the programme, representing a reserve of 1,500 MW that can be interrupted in under 30 seconds.

The mechanism was activated for the first time at the national level on Thursday 10 January, 2019, at 9:00 pm, and then for a second time on 7 October, also at 9:00 pm on the hour. Cross-border exchange schedules between European countries change on the hour, making this the most complex time for grid management as generation at power plants across Europe is stopping, starting and changing all at the same time.
Other events that occurred on the two days in question (false measurement data on the line between Germany and Austria on 10 January, loss of a generating unit on 7 October) accentuated the drop in frequency normally seen during schedule changes, causing it to dip below the load interruption programme activation threshold. Note that this activation was not related to the variability of renewable energy sources.

It is important to understand that such a variation in frequency is not enough to create a risk of blackout across the European system. Yet it does make it necessary to mobilise resources to quickly restore frequency to 50 Hz. The activation of the interruptibility programme in France showed that the mechanism can provide an adequate response in real time to help support frequency when necessary.

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