Analysis: utility scale accounts for more than half of French CR3 tender

The long awaited 810 MW French CRE tender has demonstrated the clear preference of the government to see distributed projects developed in a geographically diverse manner. Industry experts note that while the mean project price of €0.086/kWh ($0.087/kWh) is aggressive, it is not overly so and comparable with costs achieved in France’s less sunny neighbor Germany.

The CR3 tender was divided into four categories, the original tender was for 400 MW, however that was doubled to 800 MW in August. In the publication of tender winners it was revealed that 810 MW of projects have been successful. While some array types fell well short of the target capacity, in particular rooftop arrays <5 MWp, well over three times the original tender for ground mounted projects with a capacity of <12 MWp was awarded, coming in at 437.4 MWp.

Category

Original tender

Awarded total

No. projects

Mean price

BIPV <5 MWp

100 MWp

115.4 MWp

73

Not published

Rooftop <5 MWp

50 MWp

25.9 MW

20

€0.129/kWh

Ground mounted <5 MWp

75 MWp

181.3 MWp

46

€0.082/kWh*

Ground mounted <12 MWp

125 MWp

437.4 MWp

43

€0.082/kWh*

Carport structures <4.5 MWp

50 MWp

50 MWp

30

€0.124/kWh

*Mean price for both <5MWp and <12 MWp ground mounted projects.

“The extra capacity was many re-allocated to the ground mounted family, hence the larger projects, 10 MW to 12 MW are dominant,” kiloWattsol CEO Xavier Daval told pv magazine. “But there is also many more of the smaller 1 MW projects compared to previous tenders and this is good for our infrastructure to distribute them all over the grid.”

Daval reports that the development companies awarded tenders are largely established players in the French PV market. They include: Langa Solar, Quadran, Valeco, Urbasolar, Fonroche, Generale du Solaire, Tenergie, Technique Solaire, Helexia, and Engie – through its various branches including Solaire Direct, La Compagnie du vent, and Futures Energies.

Betrand Chevalley, from relatively new module suppliers AEG Industrial Solar, cautioned that the low prices might result in some projects not being realized and that carbon footprint conditions placed on the tender largely prohibits the use of modules produced in Asia.

Chevalley added that as the projects are to be delivered within two years, that there may be a rush of demand beginning in northern hemisphere spring 2016.

“I also note that awarded companies are located close to or even in the region in which the project is located,” said Chevalley. “This is the case because certainly it is easier to work on local development and tenders, and it allows cost optimization for project building including site rehabilitation.”

In terms of geography, the high irradiation levels in southern France has resulted in the majority of successfully tendered projects being located in these regions, however kiloWattsol’s Daval notes that CR3 has delivered a more geographically diverse portfolio of projects than have been achieved in France in the past.

“The majority [of projects] is still in the southern half of France but there are more and more projects in the north, such as Poitou Charente, Rhône Alpes, Bourgogne, Basse Normandie, Auvergne, and Limousin. It’s a big change with previous tenders. Probably due to the falling price of components making projects viable right across the country.”

A new tender is expected to be announced by the French government in early 2016.