France: Demand for PV high, despite FIT cuts

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According to the national French energy regulator CRE (Commission de regulation d’energie), the regional distribution companies between March 2011 and March 2012 received applications worth 640 megawatts (MW) for new photovoltaic installations up to 100 kilowatts (kW) in size. This is more than three times the target the government announced in 2011 for that market segment, when introducing the new FIT scheme.

The CRE cited the sharp price decline for new photovoltaic systems as the key reason for this hike. In the same period, the FITs for newly connected household systems decreased by more than 35 percent. The CRE would not disclose how many of these projects were already realized and connected to the grid, however.

According the national renewable energies association SER (Syndicat des ènergies renouvelables) around 1.67 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaics were connected to the French national grid in 2011, and a total of 2.64 GW were said to have been installed. Meanwhile, over 1.69 GW are reportedly waiting for approval.

SER president, Jean-Luis Bal has urged the new French minister for ecology, Nicole Bricq, to improve the photovoltaic policies, in order to further develop the national industry. One of the measures called for is an extension of the FIT system to include installations up to 250 kW, which are currently excluded and have to apply for a national tender. As a second task, it is asked that the limit for tendered projects be doubled from current 450 MW to 900 MW per year.

Edited by Becky Beetz.