French government provides details on future EU bonus


For photovoltaic market participants in France business probably will become easier this year. Delphine Batho, Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, has presented a report which explains the essential changes for France’s photovoltaic support schemes that will come into effect within the coming weeks or months.

Alongside the new installation target of a minimum of 1 GW of PV this year – a doubling of the existing annual cap of 500 MW introduced by the former government – a reform will simplify the FIT-system. As described in the report, the future will see no more than three categories instead of five today: one for roof-integrated systems, one for "simplified integration", and one for ground-mounted-systems. The tariffs will be adjusted every three months.

The ministry announced a FIT-degression of 20% for ground-mounted systems retroactively from October 1 2012. The "simplified" rooftop installations therefore shall receive an augmentation of 5%. The detailed FIT scheme with new tariffs for all categories will come into effect as soon as the decree that will contain all the new solar policies described in the report is published.

Rooftop installations can further count on a bonus of five or ten percent on the FITs, provided that the equipment was produced within the E.U. As the Ministry disclosed in more detail, they have to fulfill the following requirements: if the whole production chain from wafers to cells or from cells to modules included electrical testing is located in the E.U., the systems can qualify for a bonus of 5% each; and if the two conditions (cell and module production in the E.U.) are met or one of those plus the production-chain from ingots to wafers also located within the E.U., the total bonus of 10% will be paid.

The French FIT-scheme, which is limited to systems up to 100 kW, should stimulate 400 MW of new installations this year, the Ministry added. It also expects to initiate 500 MW to 600 MW through an auction mechanism.

According to Minister Batho, for ground-mounted and rooftop-systems bigger than 250 kW each, a new auction process that comprises 400 MW will be initiated in February or March 2013. It will be divided into 200 MW for mature and innovate technologies (concentration photovoltaic and tracker-systems) each.

Criteria for applicants will be the offered price as well as CO2 and environmental issues. Three times a year a smaller auction for medium-sized-systems from 100 to 250 kW will be launched, that shall help realize another 120 MW.

Furthermore, Delphine Batho announced the implementation of a new national solar strategy in the coming months. It shall be part of the new French energy strategy to reduce the weight of nuclear power from 75 to 50% of the national electricity output by 2025 as declared by President Francois Hollande last autumn. The French photovoltaic industry is set to present their contributions on February 1.

Arnaud Mine, president of the solar section of French renewable organization Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables (SER) revealed his "satisfaction" regarding "the majority of the new measures." It allows the industry to "pass through the period until the debate about the energetic transition in France" will be finalized. Mine expects an "ambitious course" for the French photovoltaic industry to be set.

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