France eyes threefold solar target increase by 2023

French authorities have green-lighted a draft proposal to triple current solar PV capacity by 2023 to 20.2 GW, according to a report by Reuters.

Consultative industry body the Conseil Superieur de l’Energie (CSE) has approved ambitious new green energy targets that include bold goals for offshore wind energy. However, the CSE has confirmed that there will be no nuclear plant closures planned before 2019 as France looks to transition its energy mix slowly.

The French government is preparing an official decree that will outline these revised renewable energy targets. This decree will be published over the next few weeks outlining further details of France’s energy transition law. In it, clarification on upcoming clean energy tender volumes will be set out, building on last year’s energy law plans, which specify a 40% renewable energy penetration volume by 2030.

Over the same timeframe, nuclear’s share of the French energy mix should fall to 50% by 2025. Currently, nuclear power meets 75% of France’s energy demand.

A statement issued by French renewable energy lobby SER said: "The project adopted will allow us to more than double French onshore wind capacity by 2023 and triple the PV capacity." Onshore wind’s new target checkpoints are 15 GW by 2018 and 25 GW by 2023.

Official figures from French grid operator RTE put the current level of cumulative solar PV capacity at 6,191 MW, with onshore wind at just over 10 GW and hydropower above 25 GW. Combined, clean energy delivered 18.7% of France’s power needs in 2015. Last year, France’s solar PV capacity grew by 879 MW.

Nuclear, which has long been the dominant source of power in France, will be curtailed in line with these revised targets, but not before 2019 when the first reactor in Fessenheim will be switched off, confirmed French President Francois Hollande in a TV interview last week.