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ENERGY

‘Ecowatt’: How you should use France’s new energy forecasting website?

The French government has encouraged people to use the website 'Ecowatt' to keep track of energy use this winter, in an attempt to stave off shortages and possible power cuts. But how does it work and how can I sign-up?

'Ecowatt': How you should use France's new energy forecasting website?
A worker of French power grid operator Enedis repairs electricity lines in Plozevet, Brittany. (Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP)

People across France will have to get into the habit of checking two forecasts in the mornings this winter: one for weather, and the other for energy. 

As the country grapples with possible energy shortages this winter, the government has launched ‘Ecowatt’ – an electricity consumption forecasting website – that alerts users of possible localised power cuts in real time. 

The website is in French, but it is relatively user friendly. Predictions are split into colours: green (energy consumption can continue as normal); orange (the electrical grid is strained, individuals are encouraged to reduce energy consumption); and red (the electrical grid is very strained, and short localised power cuts could be possible without a reduction in energy usage). 

If the electrical system is under significant enough stress (at the ‘red’ level), then alerts will be sent out to those who have enrolled on the site. 

Keep in mind that individuals and households are encouraged, but not required, to decrease their energy use. The site will serve to inform users about the status of the electrical grid. 

On the main page, when you go to the website “https://www.monecowatt.fr” you can see the forecast for the next four days, as shown below. 

READ MORE: LATEST: France to set maximum 15 percent gas and electricity price rises for 2023

It also shows the forecast for the next 24 hours, so users will be able to see whether there are any times of the day where the grid will be under stress.

Screenshot of the Ecowatt website

Then, when you scroll down, you can see a map of the country. This map is also colour-coded in the green, orange, red scheme.

Screenshot of Ecowatt website

On the map, you will be able to the energy forecast for your region specifically. As power cuts are not expected to be on a country-wide scale, the map will likely be of particular importance to know whether there is any risk of electricity cuts in your area. 

Regarding localised power cuts – France’s national electricity provider, RTE, told Le Journal du Dimanche that “in rare cases where electricity needs cannot be covered, then local, controlled outages lasting up to 2 hours could be organized.”

Signing up for the website

In order to receive alerts, you must register on the site with your phone number and email. According to Le Parisien, alerts will likely not come in the form of notifications directly to your smartphone.

Screenshot of Ecowatt sign-up page

There is currently no mobile app version of Ecowatt, though RTE told Le Parisien that it was “under development” and the goal is “to have it up and running by this winter.”

Another option for checking your own consumption levels are the mobile applications offered by EDF and Enedis, which also offer this service for clients.

OPINION: France cannot afford to keep shielding consumers from energy price rises

Why is this necessary?

As France grapples with possible energy shortages this winter, the government hopes that this website will help avoid power cuts.

According to RTE, in order to avoid power cuts, it will be necessary to “reduce national [energy] consumption by one to five percent in most cases, and up to 15 percent in extreme weather situations.”

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Will there be energy rationing in France this winter?

Ecowatt was originally launched in 2008 in Brittany and then extended to the whole of France in 2020. As of mid-September, over 115,000 users had registered for the site across the country. Minister for Environment, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, announced that the Ecowatt device was set to be officially integrated into the government’s ‘energy sobriety’ strategy starting September 22nd. 

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ENERGY

French electricity firms offer bonuses for cutting back this winter

Two leading French electricity providers will offer bonuses this winter to households that reduce consumption in the face of soaring prices and potential supply disruptions.

French electricity firms offer bonuses for cutting back this winter

Russia has slashed gas exports to Europe in response to Western sanctions over its war against Ukraine, while many of France’s nuclear reactors — providing around 70 percent of its electricity — are offline for safety checks or repairs.

TotalEnergies said Wednesday that bonuses of €30 to €120 would be paid to private clients who adopt the government’s calls for energy “sobriety” over winter months.

Usage is measured by smart meters that show real-time consumption, which have been installed for over three million clients, the company said.

Rival energy group Engie also announced a bonus programme starting mid-October for households that cut back on days when the grid is under particular strain.

For clients who reduce use by 10 to 20 percent those days, Engie will offer rebates of five to ten euros, said marketing director Marion Deridder-Blondel.

State-owned EDF — by far the largest electricity supplier to French households — is facing a €29-billion hit to profit from the nuclear reactor outages that will require it to buy electricity from other producers.

It has not announced a new plan to encourage energy savings, but already offers rebates to clients who cut back on so-called “red” days of peak usage in winter.

Worries about rising prices for a slew of everyday goods have moved the forefront across Europe as supply disruptions from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine persist, raising the risk of economic slowdowns or even recessions.

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