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Hydropower

Sainte-Croix du Verdon dam: a hydroelectric power plant producing 142 millions of kWh per year

Water is EDF's main source of renewable energy for generating the electricity you need

In France, 6% of the Group's electricity production is generated through hydropower, which is the subject of a development and investment program both in France and internationally.

With an installed capacity of over 20 GW on French soil, EDF is the leading supplier of hydropower in the European Union. Hydropower is environmentally friendly and does not contribute to the greenhouse effect or air pollution as it does not emit CO2 or gas pollutants.

Thanks to EDF's range of complementary power facilities we are able to use hydropower both for ‘baseload’ generation and to respond to peaks in energy consumption. Once started up, a hydropower plant can achieve maximum output within a matter of minutes.

Hydropower generating facilities in France consist of 640 dams and 435 hydropower plants. The average age of the installations is approximately 68 years. Hydropower plants are extremely diverse, their output ranging from a few dozen kW to 1,800 MW, equivalent of an average-sized nuclear power plant.


Hydropower : A proven, promising electricity source

Key fact

7.5 billion m3
The total volume of water stored in all EDF's dams throughout France

Despite the heavy initial investment, hydropower is an economically viable source of renewable energy. Hydropower plants are designed to stand the test of time.

It is also an energy of the future: in numerous countries only 10% of hydropower potential has been exploited. With increasing energy requirements worldwide, hydropower is a genuinely promising solution. In Europe, by 2020, 20% of electricity consumption must be sourced from renewable energy; hydropower will play a key role in reaching this target. In Switzerland, where EDF is represented through its subsidiary Alpik, the Group's development of hydropower capacity is a strategic move in this direction.


Taking the initiative in both France and throughout the world

In France, EDF closely supervises its dams and installations to ensure the highest technical and operating standards are maintained.

Key fact

In 2 minutes
the Grand'Maison power plant (Isère, France) can produce an output of 1,800 MW, the equivalent of two nuclear reactors.

A €560 million (SuPerHydro) modernization program has been implemented for the 2007-2011 period, providing EDF with the means to guarantee the long-term safety of its plants and boost their performance and availability in a context of ever-increasing demand. The total budget to renovate the facilities was reassessed to take into account the breadth of work, and now stands at around €900 M for the 2007-2015 period, of which €800 M is dedicated to the safety of facilities;

Development is also paramount: in Gavet (Isère, France), six older power plants will be replaced by one, more powerful unit, which is due to be commissioned in 2017. EDF is also investing in small hydropower plants.

On an international level, EDF is committed to several development programs. The Group is undertaking large-scale projects:

  • In Laos, EDF is the main investor in the Nam Theun 2 project, a 1,070 MW output dam. EDF is also the architect and lead contractor, responsible for the design and for contracting suppliers for the construction and operation of the facility.
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Taking a closer look