France registers 233 MW of new PV capacity in first half of 2017

France reached a cumulative installed PV capacity of 7,399 MW at the end of the first half of 2017, according to the latest statistics released by the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development.

In the first six months of this year, new additions totaled 233 MW, considerably down from 343 MW in the same period of 2016.

The government stressed that, despite the drop in new installations, in the second quarter the number of projects under review for a FIT contract has increased by 8% from the previous quarter. The limited growth of the first six months of this year may be explained by the fact that the new series of tender, which is expected to bring online 3 GW of additional PV capacity by 2018, was launched only recently, and that the capacity allocated in the previous series of tenders is gradually being connected to the grid.

In June, the head of French solar association SER-SOLER Xavier Daval explained to pv magazine that, for most tenders, the delay between bid allocation and construction is generally two year, and that, prior to the tender CRE-4 (for PV projects exceeding 500 kW), France was conducting one big tender every 20 months with this big-swing effect on connection.

In the second quarter of 2017, the newly installed capacity was 148 MW, while in the same period of last year new PV systems equaled 159 MW.

Of the new capacity recorded in the first half of this year, 9 MW came in the form of PV systems up to 3 kW, while another 115 MW comes from PV installations exceeding 250 kW in size. Furthermore, the ministry reports that PV systems ranging in size from 36 kW to 100 kW reached 56 MW and installation with ranging from 3 kW to 9 kW totaled 28 kW.

Of the current cumulative capacity, 7,014 MW is located in the French mainland, while the remaining 386 MW is installed in France’s overseas territories. The French mainland’s regions with the highest amount of installed solar power are Nouvelle Aquitanie (1,796 MW), Occitanie (1,516 MW), Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (986 MW) and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (728 MW). Among France’s overseas territories, La Réunion had the largest share with 189 MW, followed by Guadeloupe (70 MW), Martinique (66 MW), Guyane (46 MW), and Mayotte (13 MW).

In terms of power production, all the PV systems installed in France were able generate 4.2 TWh in the first half of 2017, up 8% from the same period a year earlier. This, the French government said, was enough to cover around 1.7% of the country’s power demand in the period.

France, which aims at installing up to 10.2 GW of solar by 2018 and 20.2 GW by 2023, still meets around 75% of its power demand with nuclear power.