Power cuts this winter: Enedis’ “ultimate” scenario

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A high-voltage electrical network. This winter, the unprecedented energy context suggests the risk of power cuts to avoid blackouts, widespread and uncontrollable blackouts. In its latest forecasts, the operator of the French electricity transmission network RTE revealed that there was a “high” risk of tension on the network in January 2023. In its press release, it is recalled that the vigilance period has exceptionally begun this fall, and now extends over several months.

RTE suggests “a few red EcoWatt signals over the six months of winter”, but excludes any risk of total loss of control of the electrical system. “Extreme situations (which would combine all the unfavorable hazards) are not the most probable (…) The vast majority of risk situations would be in the morning between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. and in the evening between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. They would not concern not whole days or weekends,” the document says.

To avoid this blackout scenario at all costs, precisely, Enedis has put in place a strategy and multiplies the exercises. According to information from Nice Matin, Olivier Loriot, regional director of Enedis in Centre-Val de Loire, said that the managers were “ready” to manage any tensions. If load shedding is the main measure to avoid general failure, collective efforts are required to use it only as a last resort.

“The challenge is to crush the peaks of consumption, which extend from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., these moments when France lights up, heats up, cooks, works, produces at the same time”, summarize our colleagues. In addition, one of the main levers to avoid the cut is the cancellation of the consumption of the large industrialists against remuneration.

If that were not enough, the managers could lower the tension by 5%. Concretely, this consists of reducing the power consumption in homes: an invisible detail for users, but saving for the electricity network which would thus save 4% of energy.

Finally, and only if these measures did not ease tensions, load shedding would be put in place. The regional daily reveals how these power cuts would be organized.

In case of ultimate necessity, the regional driving agencies will have to activate power cuts remotely, via a simple computer click. According to a list drawn up by the prefectures, only a few priority sites will be preserved: “defense, electricity production but also hospitals, prisons”, summarizes Nice Matin.

Three days earlier, managers will have received a first alert from RTE concerning a risky situation. The day before D-Day, and if the situation is confirmed by the electricity transmission network, the EcoWatt site will publish the map of the departments affected by the cut. In the evening, users will be able to check whether their address is included in the load shedding plan.