French renewable power output covered 22.7% of 2018 domestic consumption

11 Feb 2019

According to the French power transmission system operator RTE, power generation recorded its largest increase in the last 10 years (+3.7%) and reached 549 TWh in 2018, thanks to a surge in nuclear and renewable power generation. Nuclear power generation rose by 3.7%, while hydropower generation surged by 27% to 68 TWh. Favourable conditions contributed to a 15% increase in wind power generation (28 TWh) and a 11% increase in solar power generation (10 TWh), while bio-energies generated another 10 TWh (+2.3%). Thermal power generation fell by 27% to 39 TWh. Overall, the share of renewable in the power mix rose to 21.3% in 2018 (12.5% hydropower, 5.1% wind, 1.9% solar and 1.8% bio-energies).

In 2018, installed capacity in France rose by more than 2 GW (+1.6%), even if the thermal capacity dropped by 439 MW, as the 700 MW Cordemais fuel oil-fired plant was shut down in December 2018. Renewable capacity additions (+1,558 MW of wind and +873 MW of solar) accounted for the bulk of the increase and the total renewable installed capacity (including hydroelectricity, wind, solar photovoltaic, and bioenergy) stood at 51,171 MW, which represents 99% of the target set for end-2018 by the PPE (Programmation Pluriannuelle de l'Énergie). However, the solar capacity addition does not meet the PPE 2018 requirement as a total solar capacity of 10,200 MW was expected for the end of the year.

Total electricity consumption slightly decreased (-0.3%) in 2018 and renewable energies covered 22.7% of the total electricity demand, which is significantly higher than the 18.5% recorded in 2017. Exports rose by 16% thanks to the increased availability of hydro and nuclear electricity in France and the unavailability of Belgian nuclear plants, while imports fell by 28%.

The higher renewable power generation enabled the country to cut its CO2 emissions from power generation activities by 28% compared with 2017, to reach a level of 20.4 Mt. RTE also reported investments of €1.4bn for the whole year. 205 km of underground power lines were deployed, while 309 km of overhead lines were decommissioned, bringing the total length of its power lines to 105,857 km.

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