The risk of tensions on the electricity network in January is “high”, warns RTE

There is now a risk ” raised “ tensions on the French electricity network in January, due to the slower than expected restart of certain nuclear reactors, warned, Friday, November 18, the manager Electricity transport network (RTE).

The risk of recourse to the Ecowatt system, and in particular to the red alert signal, seems “high in January but will largely depend on weather conditions and the possible occurrence of a cold snap, even moderate”he says in the monthly update of the “prospects for the electrical system”. “The month of January now concentrates more risk than in the previous analysis”adds RTE, referring to the previous update.

For the time being, the drop in electricity consumption observed for several weeks (− 6.6% over four weeks compared to the average from 2014 to 2019) “reduces the risk on security of supply” electricity for the winter, but uncertainties remain due to record unavailability of EDF’s nuclear fleet this winter. With almost half of its fifty-six reactors shut down for scheduled maintenance operations or known or suspected corrosion problems, nuclear electricity production should reach a historically low level this year, between 275 terawatt hours ( TWh) and 285 TWh.

Dashboard : The French electricity network in real time

Normal or cold winter?

Thus, according to the “most likely scenario”, the nuclear fleet should provide about 40 gigawatts (GW) at the beginning of January, which represents about 70% of its capacity. Reaching 45 GW, as RTE predicted in the presentation of its winter scenario on September 14, now seems “unlikely”, but “not impossible”, said Thomas Veyrenc, executive director in charge of strategy, forecasting and evaluation of RTE, during an online press briefing. EDF, for its part, foresees in its official calendar an availability of 48 GW on 1er January, according to the analysis of Agence France-Presse.

“We have seen a small but real deviation from our central scenario, a delay of around two weeks”on the availability forecast for the nuclear fleet, a difference that could be “more significant” in January, continues RTE, referring to the “social movements” September and October, which halted work and led to “delays” or some “technical contingencies” in routine maintenance. On the other hand, this situation is not linked to the work to solve the problems of corrosion under stress, programmed on sixteen reactors considered as “sensitive or highly sensitive” to this phenomenon.

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Until then, the probability of an activation of the Ecowatt red signal, which warns of possible targeted cuts by sending an alert, seems ” unlikely “ for the end of November and ” medium “ for the beginning of December. “The quantitative risk level is unchanged throughout the winter. But it will be distributed a little differently: less risk in December, more in January, less at the end of February and March. But quantitatively over the winter, it is the same risk and therefore the number of expected Ecowatt red days is not modified compared to what we published in September”, explained Mr. Veyrenc. In case of normal winter, the number of activations of the Ecowatt red signal is estimated from 0 to 2, and from 0 to 5 in case of cold winter, said RTE.

Read also: The subtle management of the electricity network in France to avoid breakdowns: nuclear, renewables, consumption, imports, etc.

The World with AFP

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