Electricity sector in France
|Left: The Cattenom nuclear power station near Luxemburg|
Right: Wind power in France; turbines in Lower Normandy
Bottom: The Cruas nuclear power plant at night.
The electricity sector in France is dominated by nuclear power, which accounted for 71.7% of total production in 2018, while renewables and fossil fuels accounted for 21.3% and 7.1%, respectively (compare to 72.3% nuclear, 17.8% renewables and 8.6% fossil fuels in 2016). France has the largest share of nuclear electricity in the world. France's electrical grid is part of the Synchronous grid of Continental Europe and it is among the world's biggest net exporters of electricity. The French nuclear power sector is almost entirely owned by the French government.
In 2008 consumption of electricity was on average 8,233 kWh/person. This corresponded to 110% of the EU15 average (7,409 kWh/person) and 91% of the OECD average (8,991 kWh/person).
Electricity per person and by power source
|Use||Production||Export||Exp. %||Fossil||Nuclear||Nuc. %||Other RE*||Bio+waste||Wind||Non RE use*||RE %*|
|* Other RE is waterpower, solar and geothermal electricity and wind power until 2008|
* Non RE use = use – production of renewable electricity
* RE % = (production of RE / use) * 100% Note: European Union calculates the share of renewable energies in gross electrical consumption.
Mode of production
|Current grid status|
French gross production of electricity was 557 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2014,:27 slightly down from 570 and 567 TWh produced in 2008 and 2004, respectively. France is the world's 9th largest producer of electricity.:27 France is also the world's second largest producer of nuclear electricity, behind the United States and ahead of Russia and Korea. In terms of nuclear's share on the total domestic electricity generation, France has by far the highest percentage portion of any country in the world (78.4% in 2014, also see chart "Electricity production by source").:17
The French nuclear power is almost entirely owned by the French government and its electricity is sold to the government. According to Al Gore the degree of the government subsidy is difficult to ascertain because of a lack of transparencies in the finances of the operation.
The Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique is the national authority in France. Nuclear companies include EdF and Areva. Électricité de France (EdF) is the main electricity producer. Eurodif is the uranium enrichment plant. Areva NC (France) and Rio Tinto (UK) are the top uranium companies of the world.
In 2010, as part of the progressive liberalisation of the energy market under EU directives, France agreed the Accès régulé à l'électricité nucléaire historique (ARENH) regulations that allowed third party suppliers access up to about a quarter of France's pre-2011 nuclear generation capacity, at a fixed price of €42/MWh from 1 July 2011 until 31 December 2025.
France has the largest share of electricity from nuclear power in the world. According to the IEA 77% of its domestic electricity was generated by nuclear power in 2013. The second was Belgium 52.1%, third Slovakia 51.7% and followed by Hungary 50.7%, Ukraine 43.6%, Sweden 42.7%, Switzerland 36.4%, the Czech Republic 35.9%, Slovenia 33.6% and Finland 33.3% France's nuclear reactors comprise 90 percent of EDFs capacity and so they are used in load-following mode and some reactors close at weekends because there is no market for the electricity. This means that the capacity factor is low by world standards, usually in the high seventies as a percentage, which is not an ideal economic situation for nuclear plants.
In terms of installed capacity and produced power in 2013 France was the second largest producer of nuclear energy in the world behind the United States. Installed nuclear capacity was 63.1 GW and power production 403.7 TWh.
France reprocesses its nuclear waste to retrieve plutonium and uranium for use as additional fuel. Fission products are stored in La Hague facility until a deep geological repository for high-level waste can be constructed. A repository for low-level and short-lived intermediate-level nuclear waste is already operational.
The European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) at Flamanville, the first new nuclear reactor to be built in France in 15 years, as of 2012 was expected to open in 2016 instead of the original starting date of 2012, with costs climbing to €8.5bn instead of the original estimate of €3.3bn. Further delays have since pushed the opening to at least late 2022.
Since 2010, the installed hydro electricity power capacity in France has remained stable at 25 GW and is expected to reach 25.7 GW by 2023. Its annual production however has fluctuated across the years going down to 50.8 TWh in 2011 from up to 77 TWh in 2013 which is a reflection of the use of hydroelectricity as a mean to help balance the gaps between load consumption and production. Its average load factor is 25% and in 2019 hydropower represented 12% of the production in France. In terms of installed capacity, France ranked 2nd in Europe after Norway (32 GW) and 10th in the world, China being the leader with 356 GW of hydropower installed in 2019.
Installed wind power in France was 17,391 MW at the end of 2020, representing 13% of the overall installed capacity of the country. The share of wind power was in average 8,78% of the electricity production during 2020 with a peak to 32,49% on 27 September 2020.The load factor is estimated at 25%.
In 2020 electric energy from wind power in France is still only produced in onshore wind farms. However, wind farms are under construction and the first offshore wind farms might be connected to the grid in 2021. The government in its strategy for Energy and Climate expect to install 2.4 GW of offshore wind power by 2023.
The tendering process to build France's first five offshore wind farms began on 25 January 2011 with four sites being awarded in 2012 (Fécamp, Courseulles-sur-Mer, Saint-Nazaire, Saint-Brieuc) and Dieppe/Le Tréport not being awarded because the electricity selling price was too high. The second round of bidding was awarded in 2014 to the Areva / GDF Suez Consortium for the construction of two wind farms (Yeu-Noirmoutier & Dieppe/Le Tréport) and a total installed capacity of 1 GW. Finally, a third round started in 2016 with the site of Dunkirk being awarded in 2019 the consortium EDF Energies Nouvelles, Innogy and Enbridge.
France had 9,466 MW of photovoltaics installed capacity in 2018, and generated 10,196 GWh. The largest completed solar park in 2012 is the Cestas Solar Park near Bordeaux. The second largest completed solar park is the 115 MW Toul-Rosières Solar Park.
France imported 22 megatonnes (Mt) of oil products for all purposes in 2014, making it Europe's largest, and the world's 4th largest net-importer of fossil oil, behind Japan (29 Mt), Singapore (26 Mt), and Indonesia (23 Mt).:21 However, the majority of oil was used by the transportation sector (57% in 2011) and not for electricity generation.
On 8 January 2021, RTE (French TSO) expected a high consumption of 88 000 MW and, with a planned production of 88 200 MW, requested its users to reduce their consumptions. In comparison, in 2019 the peak consumption in France was 88 500 MW and 96 600 MW in 2018. The production constraints probably came from a conjunction of several factors. 12 reactors out of 56 were out for maintenance (delays due in part to coronavirus measures) and therefore during that day, the nuclear production was at ~51 GW despite an installed capacity of 61,370 GW. Wind power had a low production (~ 1 GW despite 17 GW of installed capacity). Finally, the price of electricity was high everywhere in Europe (~100 €/MWh, in comparison the average price of Electricity in France was 40,1 €/MWh in November 2020), sign of a tension on the electricity production everywhere in Europe, meaning that the country could less rely on import from neighboring countries.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Electric power in France.|
- Energy in France
- Électricité de France
- Nuclear power in France
- Renewable energy in France
- Solar power in France
- Wind power in France
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