Hydraulic energy, a spare wheel in the face of peaks in electricity consumption

A cold snap hit France last week. Between the snow, the cold and the ice, the temperatures went down very low. So the consumption of electricity, for heating, has increased. And these consumption peaks push EDF to stimulate hydropower production.

Nearly 20% of electricity production

At the start of last week, thehydraulics supplied up to 20% of the electricity produced in France. Against 12% on average over the year in 2021, according to RTE. During a consumption peak, it has the advantage of being mobilized in a few minutes, it suffices to open the valves to make the turbines of the dams turn. But in addition, hydraulics save money.

“When the prices are low, you can import and keep your hydraulic stock. And when the prices are too high, you can release hydraulic power to produce electricity. That’s why, when we consume a lot and that electricity is very expensive, hydraulics are working at full capacity, to meet demand”, explains Nicolas Goldberg, energy expert at Colombus Consulting.

Compensate for low nuclear production

This resource is all the more crucial this winter when the nuclear production remains low. “We have almost a third of the nuclear power which is stopped at the moment. So all the means of production are much more in demand. This is the case for gas power plants, we also import a lot more electricity and of course we uses a little more hydraulics to pass certain peaks”, notes Nicolas Goldberg.

In one week, the filling rate of the reservoirs of the dams operated by EDF fell by nearly 4 points: it was 2.5 points below normal on December 8 and fell to 6.1 points below normal on December 15. But this level remains close to historical averages.