In Switzerland, a video from RTS (Radio Télévision Suisse) circulated this summer, taken out of context, and accompanied by a very alarmist comment: our Swiss neighbors should expect this winter not to have electricity at home. them up to 12 hours a day.
This plan of drastic measures communicated by the Swiss authorities corresponds de facto to an emergency strategy, in the event of the realization of a disaster scenario in terms of access to electricity and gas.
Storing electricity is not easy, and given the infrastructure of the French energy network and how it works, it would even be almost impossible here, according to Le Monde. This is why our access to electricity in our homes is based on a delicate balance between the energy produced and its distribution on the territory according to consumption trends.
This balance is ensured by the network managers, who know the trends and can predict consumption peaks in particular: it is thanks to them that we will have access to the EcoWatt site, the “electricity weather forecast”. When the network is too unbalanced, “black-outs” can be caused, i.e. generalized and uncontrolled blackouts, at the national or even continental level, as was the case on November 4, 2006. These black-outs are to be avoided at all cost !
But how to do it ? Several factors are taken into account in the organization of network managers…
The rebalancing of the network involves many “levers”: acceleration of production in the power stations, energy imports and finally consumption… This last lever is indeed an ultimate recourse envisaged for this winter, as we can already see through government campaigns. for energy sobriety…
A significant detail, companies and professionals were by far the largest users of electricity in 2021. In fact, they represented 46% of final electricity consumption, compared to 38% for the residential sector. and 16% for large industries. It is therefore these poles that should be concerned first and foremost by the measures to reduce consumption.
But how did we get here? The reasons why our energy supply is somewhat compromised this winter are diverse, but retroactive…
First of all, it should be noted that the electricity system and the French nuclear fleet are currently in transition. Network managers are instructed to be extra vigilant during the winter period until 2024.
In addition, the import of energy is a normally effective remedy against shortages, but is compromised this year because many neighbors are in the same situation as us, and logically prefer to consume the electricity themselves. are used to reselling, according to TF1.
The war in Ukraine also has its role to play, given that it leads to gas shortages, and that on a European scale, the gas and electricity market are intrinsically linked, as BFM reports. Finally, the historic drought this summer makes the production of electricity in dams all the more complicated.
Considering all these factors, what then are the contingency measures potentially contemplated?
Our Swiss neighbors think indeed, in the most serious of the cases, to resort to cuts of 4 hours every 8 hours, except for the essential structures such as the hospitals obviously. They would also consider temporarily closing schools, reintroducing distance learning, as reported by RTS.
In France, the first measures envisaged would not affect individuals. For example, a “cure order” for industrial sites with high power consumption could be issued. They will then have to slow down or shift their use of energy-intensive machines. Network managers could also consider lowering the voltage. This decrease would be barely perceptible for users, the only effects would be, for example, a slightly reduced performance of your electric plates.
Finally, scheduled cuts of 2 hours, also called load shedding, would be considered by the French authorities. Users will be warned well in advance if such a scenario is likely to occur.