Peak demand


Electricity consumption peaked for the year at 88.5 GW on Thursday, 24 January 2019, at 7:00 pm, during a period when lower elevations were seeing heavy snowfall. The peak was within the average for the past 20 years in France.
The summer peak was reached on 25 July 2019, at 59.1 GW, not far from the historic high of 59.5 GW recorded in June 2017. Demand was driven up by a heatwave and economic activity that remained robust.

Demand reached its lowest point for the year on Sunday 11 August, falling to 30.8 GW.

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Closer look

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What drives peaks and valleys in demand ?

Consumption in France varies greatly depending on the season, the day of the week and the time of day

Electric heating causes demand to reach higher levels in winter than in summer.

Similarly, people are more active during the week than on weekends, so demand is higher on weekdays.

Over the course of a day, the use of lighting and cooking for example, particularly in the evening, when people tend to return home, explains the spike observed at around 7:00 pm.

In winter, demand increases by 2,400 MW with each degree Celsius drop in temperatures


Power demand in France is very sensitive to temperatures, particularly in the winter months, due to the widespread use of electric heating.

RTE uses a model that distinguishes between temperature-sensitive and non-temperature-sensitive demand to calculate consumption adjusted for weather. It is the temperature-sensitive share that determines the shape of the overall demand curve.

The temperature sensitivity of power demand varies over the course of the day. It is estimated at about 2,400 MW per degree Celsius in winter on average.

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Impacts of e-mobility on the power system

The transport sector accounts for nearly 30% of final energy consumption and close to 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. At the local level, it affects the quality of life of those who live in France. With this in mind, public authorities at the national, European and local levels are adopting policies to encourage the development of cleaner transport options. While electric vehicles are not the only way to decarbonise the transport sector, there is no question that e-mobility will take off thanks to the measures adopted by actors across the industry. RTE has consequently been regularly called upon by stakeholders to continue the initiatives announced in the 2017 Generation Adequacy Report. It set up a working group, led jointly with AVERE, that will consult with all interested parties and use the results as the basis for scenarios and analyses looking at all the ways the development of e-mobility will impact the French power system. This working group’s report was published on 15 May 2019.

The power system can accommodate the development of e-mobility
• In 2035, e-mobility would account for an estimated 10% of total electricity demand at the most. The generation mix described in the Multiannual Energy Programme is more than sufficient to accommodate this new electricity use. Load scenarios vary greatly depending on assumptions about the degree to which charging will be controlled and other general characteristics: between +8 GW under the worst-case scenario for the power system and -5.2 GW under a very favourable scenario, with the winter peak reaching around 100 GW.
• Long-distance journeys account for a small share of total distance travelled every year, and become a bigger factor at times (summer, weekends) when the power system has abundant surpluses. Vigilance would nonetheless be required if there was a cold spell during the year-end holiday period. In other words, day-to-day travel will be the biggest challenge for the power system, as demand could be concentrated around the 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm peak period if charging is not controlled.
• Though not a technical prerequisite to accommodating e-mobility, smart charging has no downside for the power system. In addition to smoothing charging-related demand, based on the generating mix described in the Multiannual Energy Programme, it would make it possible to adjust demand to a considerable degree on a daily and weekly basis to reflect variations in renewable generation.

Relation between the electricity mix and transport electrification: Significant economic gains
• Generating the power to charge electric vehicles represents a very small percentage of the full cost of mobility and will only make up 5% of the full cost of the power system in 2035. Actual costs will depend on the degree of smart charging.
• Widespread adoption of smart charging leads to collective savings of close to €1 million a year with, in the short term, less curtailment of renewable energy production and less adjustment of nuclear production and, over the medium term, a reduction in the need to develop or maintain peak capacities.
• Based on targets set for the electricity mix, the development of e-mobility will mean:
– Less need to subsidise renewable energy sources,
– More electricity price stability and fewer instances of low or negative prices,
– The ability to charge vehicles at times when electricity prices are lowest.

 

See the Generation Adequacy Report

Detailed consumption forecasts and projected trends linked to end-uses can be found in this year’s edition of the RTE Generation Adequacy Report.

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