With specifications for less light, hot water and heating in public buildings and football stadiums, for example, France wants to get through the upcoming crisis winter without the feared interruptions in the energy supply. The national energy saving plan that the government presented in Paris on Thursday also relies on the population's help with private consumption. France offers a so-called electricity weather report so that people know when the power grid is particularly busy and when it is better not to switch on the washing machine or dryer.
The media were asked in advance to accompany the government's energy saving plan. Several major media outlets, notably radio and television, have committed to linking their weather programs to an "Energy Weather" scheme, which uses a green, yellow and red color code to show the grid's voltage state, Le Parisien newspaper reported. The hope is to reach four out of five people along the way. By adjusting electricity consumption, the population should help avoid supply interruptions. The national grid supplier RTE also puts information on the load on the electricity grid on the Internet under the motto "écoWatt".
A green icon indicates power consumption, a yellow icon means the system is under load, and a red icon means there is a risk of supply disruptions if consumption is not reduced. Then people are asked to reduce their consumption between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. and between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., for example by washing their clothes at a different time or by waiting to take the dish out of the oven. France should not come to a standstill at these moments, but rather reduce consumption a little, it said.
The feared supply bottlenecks in nuclear power country France are related to the fact that the aging power plant park of the national energy company EDF is weakening. Half of the 56 nuclear power plants are currently off the grid for maintenance. Whether the government's warning to have as many power plants up and running again by winter as possible can be implemented remains to be seen. France relies on electricity supplies from Germany and wants to help out its neighbors with gas. In addition, France's penultimate coal-fired power plant was put back into operation for a limited period in Lorraine near Saarbrücken.
Another measure reminiscent of a science fiction film caused some surprises: In order to prevent a blackout, the network operator RTE will remotely intervene in the hot water consumption of around 4.3 million households in France. Anyone who has already had an automatic electricity meter, called "Linky", installed and has an electricity contract with different tariffs for off-peak and peak consumption times is affected. The generation of hot water in the apartment becomes impossible between 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.
As reported by "Le Parisien", the scope of the off-peak times will be reduced between mid-October and mid-April. "Linky" not only transmits consumption data, but can also receive the command from a distance not to heat up the hot water reservoir at certain times. The hot water treatment accounts for 10 to 14 percent of domestic electricity consumption, the network operator justifies the step.