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France Issues New Regulations for Large Solar PV Installations

On Monday, the French Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (known here by her initials, NKM), presented new regulations for large solar installations.  (above 100 kWp, or more than a thousand square meters).

According to the Minister quoted by the French daily Le Figaro, previous dispositions and feed-in tariffs were targeting volume and prices.

Still to NKM, the goal of these new regulations is not to run after Germany or China ( the two main producers of solar PV panels to date) but to prepare the next wave. This will be done by developing innovating technologies with bigger yields.

The main idea is to spur investments to create genuine Made-in-France panels and technologies.

To do so, from now on, large installations will be subject to calls for tenders.

Between 1,000 and 2,500 square meters, conditions will be simplified and the main criteria will be price. The applicant proposing the cheapest electricity will be chosen by Electricité de France.

A first lot for 120 MWp should be published on August 1, after a positive opinion from the French energy regulator CRE.

Six additional lots for 30 MWp will be published each quarter. These volumes will last for two years and a half, in order to give visibility to investors (this was a major issue with previous attempts at creating a solar PV market in France)

It is worth noting that the first candidates will be selected before the presidential elections which will take place in May 2012.

Larger installations (more than 2,500 square meters) will be chosen via price (accounting for 40 percent of the mark) but also industrial project as well as their contribution to Research and Development. Projects on industrial wastelands and old quarries will be favored over of agricultural lands.

(I personally believe we should put solar PV panels and installations on large factories and shopping centers. There is a lot of space there…)

Another novelty will be the need for improved recycling at the end of the life cycle of the projects.

Let us hope these new projects will be successful as the previous attempts at creating an solar photovoltaic industry in France have been a resounding failure. Indeed, feed-in tariffs have been at some point very high, thus creating “a speculative bubble” as the Prime Minister once noted.

This situation however enabled the country to reach 973 MWp of capacity at the end of 2010, well before the 2012 deadline given by the Grenelle de l’Environnement laws.

PV professionals are skeptical. Indeed feed-in tarrifs and regulations have been changing roughly every six months since 2008. This situation led installing companies and consulting offices within the industry to close their doors.

In any case, we shall see whether these most ambitious objectives will be reached and whether sustainable jobs in the sector will be created. So stay tuned !

Photo credit : Flickr, knowprose

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[…] are being reduced or at least re-evaluated for affordability about every six months.  France is the latest country to announce changes in its feed-in-tariff regime. The UK is scheduled to […]

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