France has been a leader in nuclear power, not renewables. However, under the leadership of François Hollande and his Socialist Party, the nation has embraced the language of the Energy Transition (Transition Énergétique).
This language has been backed up by a rediscovered commitment to renewable energy, and the results began to show in 2015 data published late last week by French grid operator RTE.
RTE reports that France added 895 MW of solar PV in 2015, which increased the nations installed capacity by 17% to 6.19 GW. PV generation increased 25%, and PV now meets 1.6% of French electricity demand.
Wind had a similarly good year, with a 23% increase in output. France still gets the bulk of its renewable energy from hydropower, but while hydropower output declined year-over-year in 2015, this did not offset the big gains in wind and PV generation.
RTE also notes that it is working on both the transmission and distribution grids to accommodate higher penetrations of renewable energy.
French Minister of Energy, Economy and Sustainable Development Ségolène Royal welcomed the growth in renewable energy, and has pledged to simplify administrative procedures, accelerate renewable energy tenders, and increase assistance to territories.
Royal additionally announced new collaborations with universities and research institutions towards the Transition Énergétique.