The construction of Europes largest PV power plant, the 300 MW Cestas plant, is nearing completion, providing a flagship project for Frances solar industry to look towards. The country is also increasing the size of some of its PV tenders and more broadly, its solar ambitions. CEO of French solar technical advisor kiloWattsol Xavier Daval says that it is a sign of things to come as a fundamental shift in energy politics takes place in the country.
pv magazine: What does the announcement that the target for PV capacity by 2020 has officially been increased from 5.4 to 8 GW mean for development of the solar market in France?
Xavier Daval: The increased target has been discussed for some time. The 5.4 GW target had already been reached and there were fears that this could compromise future public allocations of capacity. It should be noted that PV has been extended to 8 GW while onshore wind is at 19 GW and offshore 6 GW.
The announcement is in the context also of the official second release of the ADEME report on France at 100% renewable by 2050. Together they are two relatively weak signals indicating that the French political mentality toward renewable and specifically solar has definitely moved and exiting nuclear is no longer taboo. Incidentally, the original ADEME report was published in April and then temporarily removed from its website, as officially it was not considered a sufficiently mature document!
Increasing the 2020 PV target is more a temporary fix and the PPE (Programmation Pluriannuel de l’Energy) will be reviewed next year, including official targets for nuclear.
pvm: Why do you think the decision to increase PV goals through to 2020 was made, along with the doubling in size of the most recent large scale project tender?
XD: I want to believe that the obvious competitiveness of PV electricity become too attractive to be disregarded, especially when a massive amount of production capacity will have to be deployed if France starts to shut down some of the nuclear plants. The COP 21 context could also be of some influence on this shift in government mentality towards solar.