Power cuts: what the 3 scenarios envisaged by RTE predict


With the tensions on the electricity network and the arrival of cold weather, power cuts are on the minds of all French people. On the government side, calls for energy sobriety have been increasingly intense over the past few months and households have already adopted daily tips for consuming less.

If the use of load shedding is not a certainty to date, it could nevertheless intervene during the winter if the situation requires it. To better predict, the RTE electricity transmission network has published a study revealing the three scenarios, from the most optimistic to the most pessimistic, which could materialize in the coming months.

The most optimistic scenario revealed by this analysis does not foresee any red alert for this winter, which means that there would be no power cuts. This could happen in the event of a success of the energy policy meaning that the decommissioned reactors have been returned to service quickly.

But this scenario can still vary depending on the winter. Indeed, according to RTE’s forecasts, only a warm winter like that of 2019 or 2020 or a more classic winter would be free of any cuts. So even if the energy sobriety plan worked and the reactors were quickly restarted, load shedding could still occur.

This could happen once in the event of a cold winter like those of 2012 or 2013. But if the weather turns out to be particularly unforgiving like during the winters of 2010 or 2011, RTE could take the decision to cut the power between one and thrice.

However, as our colleagues from TF1 explain, EDF’s delay in bringing the nuclear reactors back into service and the insufficiently effective sobriety plan prompted RTE to rule out this scenario. But what is the most likely according to the manager?

According to the RTE study, the most probable scenario would be the intermediary. It is built on a hypothesis that would see electrical activity gradually resume in France by January, with a more or less effective sobriety plan.

Thus, if energy sobriety proves its worth, recourse to load shedding should be reasonable. The number of power cuts should indeed be similar to that of the first scenario.

However, if the efficiency of sobriety is not there, between zero and two alerts could be triggered in the event of a normal weather situation. But if the winter is cold, it will be one or two alerts that will be triggered. This figure could even rise to six in the event of particularly low temperatures. Finally, the most pessimistic scenario…

In the event that the energy situation is “deteriorated”, recourse to load shedding could be much more common. So even with a warm winter like in 2019 and 2020, power cuts are expected to occur between four and seven times.

If the weather situation is similar to the median of recent years, between six and twelve cuts could occur. But these figures are even higher in the event of a cold winter since RTE is planning no less than twelve to twenty activations for a season similar to those of 2012 and 2013.

And if the temperatures are as low as in 2010 or 2011, recourse to backup means should prove to be very frequent. The number of load shedding could thus be between twenty and twenty-eight.