France: More PV FIT cuts announced

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France is not holding back on its photovoltaic subsidy cutbacks. According to the French regulatory agency, CRE (Commission de régulation de l’energie), FITs for installations up to 100 kWp will decrease by between 2.6 and 9.5 percent, depending on the type of installation, from the first to the second quarter of the year. Thus, the tariffs for roof-integrated residential installations up to nine kWp will fall by 4.5 percent, to 37.06 euro cents per kWh, and tariffs for systems from nine to 36 kWp will decrease to 32.42 euro cents.

All other rooftop systems face reductions of 9.5 percent. For instance, FITs for integrated rooftop installations on schools and hospitals up to 36 kWp will fall to 27.23 euro cents, while systems for "simplified integration" on rooftops will receive either 19.34 or 20.35 euro cents. Meanwhile, photovoltaic plants between 36 and 100 kWp in size will receive 10.79 euro cents per kWh, a drop of 2.6 percent.

CRE also made public the number of new photovoltaic installations that applied for a FIT from January to March 2012. Overall, it said, applications for residential rooftop-integration systems totalled 37.4 megawatts (MW), while all other installations up to 100 kW, totalled 102.4 MW.

French solar industrial organisation, Enerplan (Association professionnelle de l’energie solaire) had opposed any further tariff declines, arguing that they would prompt more job losses in the French solar industry.

According to Thierry Mueth, executive director of Enerplan, during 2011 the industry lost "half of the 25,000 jobs that had been created until then." Mueth also criticized the tender process for installations over 100 kW, due to its "extremely long timeframe". The realisation of these projects will not begin before autumn 2012, meaning a standstill for this segment in France of more than one and a half years.

In March, the French Ministry for Ecology announced the winners for the first tendering process for photovoltaic plants between 100 to 250 kWp in size. In total 218 installations worth 45 MW were selected. According to Minister, Eric Besson, the average price for the electricity that these projects will produce, is 22.9 euro cents per kWh.

Edited by Becky Stuart.