France releases PV initiative aimed at fighting Chinese competition

Following recent complaints from France’s Ecology Minister Nathalie Koscisuko-Morizet, over the fact that 90 per cent of the PV systems installed in the country were produced in China, the government has announced that it wants to fund PV R&D demonstration projects, which will help to "minimize the costs of products or installed systems and to exploit the produced energy more efficiently".

The purpose of the new program is to help French PV producers catch up with their international competitors. It is divided into six different technological sections – ranging from materials to the improvement of systems, and building-integration to components. Any company which wishes to receive funding has to apply by May 2011.

The goals of the program are quite ambitious. Until 2020, the funded projects will be expected to achieve module costs under 0.5 euro cents per watt, while costs for installed residential systems must reach prices lower than €2 per watt. Furthermore, costs for ground-mounted systems shall not exceed €1.50 per watt.

The volume of the governmental funding has not been disclosed. However, according to the government’s publications, the new PV program is part of an action plan to spur "demonstration of renewable energy and green chemistry": in total, it has been allocated €1.35 billion.