France, in northwest Europe, has total area of 547,030km2 with a population of 60,656,178 (July 2005 estimation, CIA Facts). In 2003 the country exported 72.2TWh of electricity and imported 6.2TWh. Total electricity produced during 2002 was 560,111GWh, consisting of coal (25,119GWh), oil (4,522GWh), gas (23,497GWh), biomass (1730GWh), waste (1785GWh), nuclear (436,760GWh), hydro (65,887GWh), solar (6GWh) and 805GWh from other sources (IEA Energy Statistics, 2002).

Hydro power in France has been produced since the 19th century, and the country is Western Europe’s second largest producer of hydroelectricity after Norway. There is a great diversity in the characteristics of the nation’s hydro power plants: run of river plants account for 52%, plants associated with locks or weirs account for 21% and plants associated with lakes or reservoirs account for the remaining 27%. France’s electricity sector is dominated by the state-owned utility company Electricite de France (EDF), which produces, transmits and distributes most of its electricity in its home nation.

France has a total installed capacity of 25,475MW (in 2003). This adds up to 12% of the country’s total electricity production. The gross theoretical hydro power potential of France is about 20,000GWh/yr, and the technically and economically feasible potential is roughly 7200GWh/yr.

Educational programmes

• At ENSICA the courses given by the Fluid Mechanics department (FMD) cover the thermodynamics of irreversible processes and the mechanics of continuous media. It has many courses related to turbo-machinery.

• ENSEEIHT has a course based around Fluid Mechanics and the various problems of transfer, in addition to Mechanics, Thermics, Energetics, and Computer Science. Professional opportunities include Hydraulics and Environmental Engineering (Community Water Service, Hydraulic Renovation/Refurbishing, Basin Management) as well as those fields withe transfers involving the movement of fluids (Aeronautical and Space Industries, Automobiles, Naval Hydrodynamics, Nuclear and Petroleum Energy, Turbo-machines, and Combustion).

• Conférence des Grandes Ecoles has an Engineering department which specialises in Hydraulics.

• L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Hydraulique et de Mécanique – this school offers two specialisations: Energi and Process (mechanical engineering oriented) and Hydraulic (civil engineering oriented).

• University Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, has an Institute of Fluid and Solid Mechanics. It also offers a Masters programme in hydraulics.

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