France's electricity consumption declined by 3.5% in 2020
According to the French power transmission system operator RTE, weather-adjusted electricity consumption in France fell by 3.5% in 2020 to 460 TWh due to the health crisis, which has led to a fall in economic activity. Electricity demand from large-scale industry declined by 10% (including a fall of up to 20-25% in some sectors such as automobile construction, steel production or rail transport), whereas residential consumption remained stable.
Electricity production decreased by 7% in 2020 to 500 TWh due to the drop in demand and to a lower availability of nuclear power plants. Indeed, maintenance times for nuclear reactors were extended, shutdowns were rescheduled, and the Fessenheim nuclear power plant was shut down, leading to a nearly 12% decrease in French nuclear power generation. Renewable power generation increased significantly (+17% for wind power, +8% for hydropower and +2.3% for solar power). Wind power now accounts for 7.9% of total production, becoming the third largest electricity source after nuclear (67.1%) and hydropower (13%). This rising renewable generation, combined with a lower demand, contributed to a nearly 11% drop in thermal power generation (-13% for coal-fired generation, to its lowest level since 1950). Overall, 93% of the power generation was carbon-free in 2020.
Despite a 7% decline in electricity exports to 78 TWg, France remained a net exporter of electricity with 43.2 TWh of net exports in 2020.
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