France’s second largest hydroelectricity producer, CNR continues to develop its production capacities, especially with the construction of small and micro hydropower plants to optimise the output of its installations.
A historic and unavoidable player in French hydroelectricity, CNR has built and operates 19 hydropower plants on the Rhone. Commissioned between 1948 and 1986, these high capacity installations (from 45 to 420 MW of installed capacity) have been supplemented over recent years by thirteen small hydropower plants (SHPP) with installed capacities less than 10 MW: eight are on the Rhone and five on other rivers.
These small hydropower plants are designed to harness the river’s compensation water in the framework of sustainable development. They provide excellent power generation performances. The SHPP of Pierre-Bénite (69) is the largest on the Rhone. Commissioned in 2000, it has an installed capacity of 7.4 MW. Outside the Rhone, CNR operates five small hydropower plants: on the Eyrieux at Cheylard (Ardèche), on the Seine at Chartrettes (Seine-et-Marne) and three others located in the Maurienne Valley, near Epierre (Savoie).
In addition to its small hydropower plants, CNR also operates eight micro hydropower plants (MHPP) on the Rhone, to maximise the production of its facilities. These micro hydropower plants, with an installed capacity between 0.5 and 2 MW, equip the dams of Motz, Seuil de Yenne, Lavours, Villebois, Pierre-Bénite, Saint-Pierre de Bœuf Charmes and Le Pouzin.
Altogether, these 19 hydropower plants, and 21 small and micro hydropower plants, have an installed capacity of 3,035 MW.
The hydroelectricity CNR produces is generated exclusively by turbines. This technique, known as run-of-the-river technique requires the rigorous management of low reservoir volumes to optimise daily production. This is the reason why CNR has developed unique expertise in managing hydroelectricity and more generally managing intermittent energies, by equipping itself with highly efficient daily forecasting tools.
Backed by its expertise in its core business, CNR is pursuing the development of its hydraulic assets. This development follows several directions:
- the harnessing of compensation water by building new small hydropower plants;
- acquiring hydroelectricity concessions made available for sale;
- purchasing existing plants;
- purchasing hydroelectricity from producers opting to quit the obligatory purchase scheme;
- development abroad (e.g., the project for a new plant in Switzerland).