What you should know about Ecowatt, the alert system to avoid power outages this winter

What you should know about Ecowatt, the alert system to avoid power outages this winter

RTE, the company in charge of the French electricity network, presented its scenarios for the winter 2022-2023 on Wednesday, September 14. In the context of the energy crisis and the war in Ukraine, the manager believes that the risk of power outages is possible this winter, but which can be avoided by taking small steps, especially during rush hour.

In fact, the risk of outages is concentrated at specific times of high consumption: office hours, evenings between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., periods of extreme cold… At that time, the risk of outages can be reduced or even be removed.

To alert individuals and businesses when the time is right, RTE is relaunching and modernizing a previously used alert system: Ecowatt.

An electric weather forecast

This could become the new information companion this winter… The Ecowatt alert system is a kind of electricity climateaccording to the expression of RTE.

Created in 2020, this device allows users to see the situation of the electrical system in real time and volunteer to reduce their consumption in case of voltage, when they receive an SMS alert.

In real time, Ecowatt measures the level of electricity consumption of the French, and can issue alerts to adopt gestures at the right time. The Monecowatt.fr site allows you to register to receive SMS alerts in real time and adapt your consumption.

It is a citizen deviceAccording to RTE, so that everyone’s small gestures contribute to provide electricity to all​.

What’s the use?

The 2023-2024 winter promises to be tense in the electricity sector. First of all, it is during cold periods that we consume more energy and electricity consumption is higher.

This year, especially due to the war in Ukraine and its effects on the arrival of Russian gas, the European energy market is in full transition.

It is for these reasons that the margins of RTE this winter to maintain a sufficient supply will be reduced. The administrator does not exclude under certain scenarios the use of directed cutswhich however would not be a nationwide blackout​, specifies RTE.

To avoid having to take such steps, Ecowatt will be used, beginning in the fall, to help businesses and individuals take the right actions at the right time.

The risk of outages cannot be totally excluded, but could be avoided by lowering national consumption by between 1 and 5% in most cases, and up to 15% in the most extreme weather situations.according to RTE.

What to do and when?

This winter, Ecowatt will indicate four days in advance and hour by hour the risks of tension in the electrical network. For each region, Ecowatt will indicate the level of consumption with a color code:
🟢 In green, Ecowatt consumption is normal.

🟠 In orange Ecowatt, the electrical system is tense, and green gestures are welcome

🔴 In Ecowatt red, the electrical system is very tense, and cuts are inevitable if consumption is not reduced.

Depending on these situations and the time of day, RTE recommends several best practices. In addition to the daily eco-gestures that reduce electricity consumption, there are simple gestures: lower the heating by one degree, run the machines outside peak hours, turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms.

Here’s a table showing some helpful gestures based on alertness level and time of day:

The vast majority of consumption peaks occur in the morning between 8:00 and 13:00 and in the afternoon between 18:00 and 20:00.

Also read: Are the French ready to heat up to 19°C?

Can this be useful or even effective?

Scheduled to launch in 2020 for individuals, Ecowatt will roll out to businesses this winter and everyone is called to adopt green gestures.

At critical moments, Ecowatt will call to lower or postpone your consumption of heating, lighting or cooking. Will these gestures be useful?

We can eliminate a large part of the risks if we are very proactive in sobriety, as well as in mobilizing around the red EcoWatt signal at consumption peaks, so that we can get through a winter, even a cold one, without difficulty.says Xavier Piechaczyk, chairman of the RTE board.

Small streams make big rivers, and everyone’s small actions can ultimately have a significant effect. Therefore, RTE estimates that if every French household turned off one unnecessarily lit light bulb at night, this would represent an energy gain of 0.6 GW per night, more than double the output of the Rance tidal power plant.

Here are the earnings for eco-gestures during Ecowatt’s red period:

How many Ecowatt red alerts?

Within the vast majority of situations​, RTE only foresees some red signs from Ecowatt during the 6 winter months​. Of course, everything will depend on the circumstances.
The first factor will be the weather: in the event of a warm winter, only disturbances in the European energy market (mainly related to the conflict in Ukraine and gas shortages) could lead to Ecowatt activations. In the event of a very cold winter associated with disturbances in the energy market, the Ecowatt red alerts could be activated between 20 and 28 times.

The sobriety of consumers (individuals and companies) will also have a positive effect. RTE estimates that the saving actions would reduce consumption between 2 and 3%, while smoothing it out throughout the day. This would represent a significant reduction in the risk of resorting to safeguards.

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