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Analysis of the electricity supply-demand balance for the winter period 2009-2010: a situation less favourable than in previous years.

Source: RTE-DICAP 30/10/2009

A situation significantly less favourable than in previous years. The risk of an interruption in supply nonetheless remains moderate, except in the event of an intense and sustained cold snap.

Every year, RTE conducts a prospective study of the balance between supply and demand for electricity for the coming winter period, covering the whole of mainland France. This time of the year generally sees high levels of electricity demand as temperatures fall.
The study is used to identify periods where the supply-demand balance comes under strain; it explores the measures that can be taken by electricity market players and RTE to avoid any interruption in supply during peak consumption periods in France.


For the winter period 2009-2010, the study is based on demand forecasts that are relatively stable compared with last year, with demand expected to peak at 83,500 MW during the first week of January, assuming temperatures are in line with seasonal norms.

Based on information provided by the generators at the end of October 2009, the availability of the French generating fleet this winter is expected to be significantly lower than last winter during the months from November to January. The arrival of new generating facilities (mainly wind farms and conventional thermal power plants) will be insufficient to compensate for the very marked temporary reduction in the availability of the French fleet.

The outlook for the period November 2009 to January 2010 is therefore much less favourable than in previous years.

For temperatures close to seasonal norms, imports could be required between mid-November 2009 and the end of January 2010, to cover French electricity demand and satisfy the technical security criterion stipulated by RTE. To do this, suppliers would have to look to the European markets, in addition to activating demand response (load reduction) possibilities with their customer portfolios.
The estimated level of imports could therefore reach 4,000 MW between November 2009 and January 2010.

In the event of an intense and sustained cold snap, forecast margins will fall, as electricity demand is particularly sensitive to changes in outside temperatures. Higher imports could be needed to satisfy electricity demand in France. With temperatures 7 to 8C below the seasonal norm, the level of imports could reach the acceptable technical limit for the French network.
In such circumstances, French market suppliers could apply extra load reduction measures to their customer portfolios. If necessary, RTE will have to activate exceptional measures and initiate actions to safeguard the system: voltage reduction of 5%, or even load shedding as a last resort.

Any additional reduction in the availability of the French generating fleet would reduce forecast margins and raise the risk of an interruption in the electricity supply in the event of a cold snap.

In winter, the daily peaks usually occur at around 7pm. All other things being equal, the rise in the demand peak acts to reduce the power system's operating safety margins.
As a result, demand side management actions taken to control or reduce electric loads at peak demand times, will help to improve the condition of the electricity supply-demand balance and thus strengthen security of supply for the country.

In order to control manage electricity demand efficiently and sustainably, including instantaneous demand, RTE encourages consumers to actively adopt regular habits, such as switching off lights in unoccupied rooms, switching off electronic equipment in stand-by mode, using electric heating and household appliances wisely, and so on.

> See the analysis of the supply-demand balance for the winter period 2009-2010.