Enerplan: French solar industry remains sceptical

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Speaking to pv magazine, Thierry Mueth, executive director of Enerplan, says that his company is looking for a stable solar strategy in France for the next five years, rather than "tiny decisions every two weeks".

In his opinion, France lacks a clear strategy on how to develop solar energy following the tender system for bigger photovoltaic projects and a quarterly ten percent decrease in feed-in tariffs for smaller projects introduced last March, which has reportedly caused the disruption of thousands of jobs.

Furthermore, the fact that French President, Nicholas Sarkozy, has outlined plans to introduce a 10 percent domestic content bonus for the production of solar electricity, if the photovoltaic panels are made in France, is a "good thing", but does not solve uncertainty, he laments. Specific details for the national bonus scheme, expected to be similar to Italy’s program, have not yet been disclosed.

Referring to the campaign of socialist candidate, Francois Hollande, he admits that a reduction of nuclear power in France might be a good idea. Hollande who is leading in France’s opinion polls has announced a reduction of nuclear power in the electricity balance from 75 to 50 percent. "He is not precise in telling by which means he wants to reduce nuclear [however]. I don’t want solar energy being developed against any other source of energy. Solar should not be any part of nuclear policy, but considered alone," says Mueth.

He adds that Enerplan does not expect more detailed proposals and decisions on solar energy support schemes to be released by the government before the French elections. The fact the country’s minister of ecology, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet has been appointed as spokesperson for the campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy showed, in his opinion, that there will be no more concrete solar policy in that section.

With regards to EdF’s acquisition of Photowatt, Mueth is equally sceptical. "EdF was not the only white knight to save Photowatt. There were two other French companies to propose to buy Photowatt. Maybe the proposals weren’t good enough."

He goes on to question the energy giant’s solar strategy. "EdF was the first French company who imported Chinese panels and now is leaning towards the French industry." While he declines to comment further on what he is expecting in the long-term for the company, he did say, "Now that it is done, it is okay, especially for the Photowatt employees."

Edited by Becky Stuart.