This study identifies five key issues linked to electricity consumption to be taken into consideration in the management of the French power system transition:
- articulating the building stock renovation strategy and electricity consumption;
- integrating demand for electricity stemming from the development of electric vehicles;
- addressing winter "peak" demand with specific demand-side policies;
- establishing energy demand management economic models as a flexible solution for the power system;
- identifying the impact of the emergence of a power system that is decentralised, balanced locally and connected with other energy carriers on the nature of demand for power from the grid.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND STRUCTURAL CHANGES IN THE ECONOMY MODERATE ELECTRICITY DEMAND
In the context of weak economic and demographic growth, the recent stabilization of electricity demand in France can be attributed to “structural” factors, i.e. the continued expansion of the tertiary sector in the economy and the acceleration in energy efficiency gains. This evolution was poorly anticipated by stakeholders in the sector, which contributed to an imbalance between electricity demand and supply in Europe. In the absence of a major disruption, planning for transition in the electrical system should be made assuming relatively stable demand.
FIVE MAJOR CHALLENGES LINKED TO THE EVOLUTION OF ELECTRITY CONSUMPTION IN THE CONTEXT OF THE ENERGY TRANSITION
However, major transformations will change the nature of the requirements placed on the electricity system: the times at which energy is consumed, the ability to manage the demand side of the system, and the geographical location of electricity demand within the network. Five key challenges are identified to anticipate the development of electricity consumption patterns: the role of electricity in satisfying building sector heating requirements, the integration of electric vehicle charging, the evolution of the winter demand peak, the development of demand-side management, and the emergence of an electric system based on local-level balancing.
A POLICY VISION FOR THE DEMAND SIDE TO FACILITATE THE TRANSITION OF THE ELECTRICITY SYSTEM
Too often considered an exogenous factor, the development in electricity consumption is in fact central and should be reaffirmed as the point of departure for electricity sector planning, backed by an ambitious policy vision and quantified targets. This overall vision should be drawn up in alignment with building sector strategies and the roll-out of green mobility solutions. Defining a carefully articulated “target” trajectory which takes into consideration the evolution of other energy sources in the network (gas or heat) would help improve the visibility and reduce the overall cost of the electricity system transition.