Two excellent documents have been released by the Association négaWatt in France. These reflect on the electricity crisis in France during the cold spell just prior to Christmas, 2009 caused by the unchecked growth of electric heating.
I’ve extracted three charts that are telling in the discussion of energy policy.
Inefficiency of Electric Space Heating
This chart illustrates how inefficient electricity is for heating. It takes four units of primary energy to produce one unit of heat, most of which is lost in the act of generating electricity.
Inefficiency of Using Natural Gas to Produce Electricity for Heating
While it is not possible to use nuclear power to heat homes directly, it is possible with natural gas. Effectively, it takes only one unit of natural gas to produce one unit of space heating. However, it takes 2.3 units of natural gas to deliver one unit of space heating. This is a very inefficient and strategically foolish use of natural gas.
France Exports Only a Small Portion of Its Nuclear Generation
The last chart reveals that despite myths to the contrary France exports only a small portion of its electricity generation to the rest of Europe. It is simply not true as suggested by skeptics that Germany and Spain import large amounts of nuclear power from France because of their large installed base of renewable energy.
La pointe d’électricité en France …zéro pointé ! Dossier de presse 1er décembre 2009, by Association négaWatt
Pointe et chauffage électrique, by Association négaWatt