the drought seriously disrupts the production of hydroelectric power stations

Tatiana Geiselmann (in Kembs in Alsace), edited by Juliette Moreau Alvarez

In Alsace, the level of the Rhine is at its lowest, and electricity production takes a hit. The drought strongly disrupts the work of the turbines of hydroelectric power stations. In this region where EDF’s largest production chain is located, production has fallen by 25% compared to last year.

While gas deliveries are cut from September 1 by the Russian giant Gazprom, French electricity production is also struggling. Several nuclear plants are shut down for maintenance, and hydroelectric plants are idling due to low water levels. In Alsace, where EDF’s largest production line is located, production has fallen by 25% compared to last year.

50% of turbines shut down

In Kembs, six gigantic turbines have been transforming Rhine water into electricity for 90 years. Except that at the moment, two of them are forced to stop, as explained by Amaury de Bonnaventure, head of the hydroelectric control and monitoring center: “Compared to other hydroelectric power stations which are large dams in the mountains, here we are on a run-of-river installation and therefore we finally undergo the flow which arrives. A flow at the lowest level ever recorded since the start of measurements 75 years ago, as shown by the graphs on the screens in the control room.

“Here, we see in blue the flows over the last three months and we can clearly see the drop from the months of April-May”, shows the manager. “And we arrive in August with historically low flows, of the order of 500 cubic meters per second, against normally 1,200 cubic meters per second in these summer months”. Less water, therefore, which inevitably means less electricity produced by the plant. “It’s more profitable to produce with fewer turbines,” emphasizes Amaury de Bonnaventure. “And so, in August, we had up to 50% of turbines that were shut down.”

While waiting for the rain to return, EDF is taking advantage of these shutdowns to carry out maintenance work.

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