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What are manual frequency restoration and replacement reserves and what purpose do they serve?

The French Energy Code provides that:

"The transmission system operator monitors availability and implementation of the reserves required for operating the grid. […]"

The monitoring mission of reserves entrusted to RTE principally involves building available reserves within short time-frames to counteract incidents occurring in real time.

For building these reserves, RTE must meet the requirements of Policy 1 of ENTSO-E (European Network of Transmission System Operators), which provides that:

  • after an incident, the transmission system operator must be able to restore the power exchanges of its control area within 15 minutes at the latest (frequency containment reserves and automatic frequency restoration reserves)
  • that the sizing of reserves available in less than 15 minutes is done based on the assumption and expectation of the largest possible generation incident. In the case of RTE, this is the loss of the biggest generation unit that can be connected to the grid, i.e.:1500 MW (frequency containment reserve, automatic frequency restoration reserve and manual frequency restoration reserve)

In addition, RTE builds short-term reserves to restore the automatic frequency restoration reserve in less than 30 minutes (replacement reserve).


RTE also builds the following reserves:

  • Manual frequency restoration reserve (mFRR) is composed of 1000 MW which can be activated in less than 15 minutes and for 2 hours.
  • Replacement Reserve (RR) is composed of 500 MW which can be activated in less than 30 minutes and for 1.5 hours.

These must be able to cover two daily occurrences of an incident equivalent to the largest possible generation incident.

RTE contracts manual frequency and replacement reserves by means of an annual call for tenders

Since 2012 RTE has contracted manual frequency and replacement reserve by means of an annual call for tenders. Its terms are subject to consultation with market players, then validated by the CRE (French Energy Regulatory Commission).

Parties awarded an mFRR RR contract undertake to make their capacities available on the balancing mechanism. That is why any tenderer must first be signatory to a participation agreement as a balancing service provider before the deadline for submission of tenders in response to the call for tenders. Contract and technical information is available here: Participating in the balancing mechanism.

If you are a customer connected to the transmission or distribution grid, you are required to either become a balancing service provider, or to enlist the services of an aggregator to participate in the mechanism. Please find in the following link the list of participants with balancing entities approved for manual frequency restoration reserve and replacement reserves.

How to apply for the demand response call for tenders for 2020

From 27 June to 26 July 2019, RTE is opening the consultation for manual frequency restoration reserve and replacement reserve 2020. Please find the release presenting the terms for participation and the timeline of the call for tenders.

The consultation file includes the following elements:

  • Tender regulation
  • Specifications
  • Contract template
  • Agreement terms and conditions
  • Specifications for establishing an observability system
  • Annexes to the specifications for establishing an observability system

In addition, RTE is providing the following for participants:

Information system and observability system

In addition to the access to the RTE information system required for balancing service providers (presented on the web page Participating in the Balancing Mechanism), any holder of a mFRR-RR contract must implement an observability system, as described in the following specifications for establishing an observability system.

Additional contracting of reserves

In the event of default of one or several holders of the mFRR-RR contract in the course of the year, RTE may launch an additional call for tenders to restore the required level of reserves. Parties wishing to participate in this additional contracting of reserves may consult the permanent tender regulation.

To participate, the tenderer must have a valid contract for provision of mFRR-RR and have certified generation capacity.

Additional calls for tender will be announced on the e-commerce portal for parties which meet the aforementioned conditions.


For any queries, please email your usual sales representative or marketservices@rte-france.com (RTE Sales Division).

Additional info: