France boosts FITs for rooftop PV 'Made in Europe'

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Marking a shift in France’s renewable energy policy, the country’s Ministry of Ecology and Energy has unveiled new measures aimed to support both the domestic and European photovoltaics industry.

As such, a bonus of 10% will be paid on top of existing FITs for rooftop photovoltaic systems between 36 to 100 kW in size, which carry the ‘Made in Europe’ stamp. Meanwhile, all photovoltaic systems in this category, regardless of manufacturing provenance, will receive a 5% higher FIT of €0.184 compared to €0.175.

It is not understood the tariff will be increased for rooftop systems smaller than 36 kW. More concrete details are expected to be provided by France’s electricity market regulator, CRE, together with the new tariffs for the current quarter, in due course however.

In yet more positive news, the ministry has said it intends to introduce a maximum threshold for annual photovoltaic FIT decreases of 20% – currently there is no limit – and that a new tender round for plants bigger than 250 kW will be opened before the end of 2012.

The last auction for this category was completed last August, when systems totaling 450 MW were awarded. The tendering process for installations between 100 and 250 kW shall be continued as scheduled every four months, the ministry added.

French industry association Enerplan has said it supports the new policy. "This is an important political decision to clarify the perspectives for smaller and middle branch companies and to maintain the existing jobs," president, Thierry Mueth said.

Following the election of President Francois Hollande, France’s new government announced stronger support for wind and solar energy, in order to compensate for the scheduled reduction of nuclear power in the country’s electricity mix, from 75 to 50% by 2025.

A ministries report, issued a few weeks ago, described wind and solar as "the most promising energy resources" in France. However, the paper’s recommendation to phase out FITs for larger rooftop systems seems to have been ignored.

Edited by Becky Beetz.