As one of the world’s largest producers of electricity, France is primarily reliant on nuclear power, which accounts for about 72% of total national electricity production. Though renewable energies have generally been slow to take off, France does use a significant volume of hydroelectric power to produce electricity with a production share of about 20%.
In 2018, France was ranked third in Europe for its hydroelectric production with 11% of the continental total, behind Norway and Turkey. Total installed hydropower capacity is about 25.5 GW from the country’s roughly 2,400 hydropower plants. Annual hydropower production of 69 TWh sees France ranked 10th in the world. In order to increase the use of renewable energy resources, France is seeking to increase hydropower capacity by at least 3,000 MW by 2020. Currently, there are about 330 MW of hydropower capacity under construction.
Because of the mountain ranges the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the Massif Central, the hydroelectricity sector in France has great potential with about 120,000 GWh. Though this potential has already been exploited to a very large degree, there is still a remaining commercial potential estimated at about 10 TWh/year. This potential largely comes from small hydropower and pumped storage hydropower plants, as well as rehabilitation of existing facilities.