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France Solar Market becomes 7th largest in the world with 224% growth in 2010- To Double again in 2011

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France has had a rocky relationship with solar energy.Unlike other European countries France gets a huge amount of electricity from renewable sources namely nuclear energy.Its electricity prices are one of the lowest and it even exports electricity to neighbors.So the driver for increasing solar electricity is quite low in France compared to others  like Spain and Italy.However France has seen a massive boom in solar installations in 2010 making it the 7th largest market in the world.France installed over 719 MW of solar in 2010 and faces a massive backlog of applications.The government got overwhelmed and called a sudden stop to all applications.The French government stupidly blamed Chinese solar panels for the solar deluge when it was its faulty solar Feed in Tariff Policy which was too generous.

The government has now decided to heavily cut down the sudsidies and crack down on larger installations by only allowing them though auctions.A 500 MW annual cap will also be implemented which is anyway too late since the applications will lead to 1-1.5 GW in 2011 and 2012.This means that the total French capacity of solar energy will more than double in 2011.I think this 500 MW cap will also become superflous as declining solar costs make government subsidies irrelevant in a couple of years anyway.

Total French PV capacity over 1 GW

France’s Ministry of Ecology, Sustainability, and Transport has reported the installation of 720 megawatts (MW) of PV in continental France and its overseas territories in 2010. This brings total installed capacity to over one gigawatt (GW) for the first time.

As already reported, as a means to limit costs to ratepayers, France’s Ministry has set a new target of 500 MW per year for the installation of PV. In comparison, Germany, one of France’s main trading partners, has recently reaffirmed its target of 3.5 GW per year.

The French Ministry’s proposal cuts PV tariffs by 20 percent and will severely limit new applications for any rooftop project greater than 100 kW and all ground-mounted projects.

To restrict the type and number of installations, all rooftop projects greater than 100 kW, but less than 250 kW, will have to respond to a “simplified” Request for Proposal (RFP) or “call for tender” as it is known in Europe. Winners of the RFP will be chosen on several non-price factors and will receive the fixed tariffs.

However, all rooftop projects greater than 250 kW, and ground-mounted projects of any size will have to respond to a more conventional RFP. Winners will be based on price, environmental impact, innovation, and other factors. Thus, PV projects greater than 250 kW will be effectively removed from the French feed-in tariff program.


Abhishek Shah

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