France plans 200 MW joint wind and solar auction

Virginie Schwartz, a senior official of the French General Directorate for Energy and the Climate (DGEC), which is part of the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, has revealed that a joint auction for wind and solar power projects not exceeding 18 MW in size will be held soon, according to French financial newspaper Les Echos. So far, the French government has held separate auctions for solar and wind in the frame of different support schemes.

Schwartz explained that joint renewable energy auctions are being introduced upon request of the EU, and that these are expected to further reduce costs of both renewable energy technologies. In the first auction, Schwartz added, around 200 MW of renewable energy capacity will be allocated.

According to Xavier Daval, the vice-president of French renewable energy association SER (and president of its solar commission SOLER), the introduction of a joint auction system would be detrimental to the further development of both technologies. “We are not convinced that a joint auction would be the best solution for large-scale solar and wind if the selection is solely based on price. We have learn that all renewables are not equal and shall not be opposed in competitive auctions. We need more renewables of more than one type,” Daval told pv magazine.

The French government is currently supporting solar projects ranging in size from 250 kW to 17 MW through six 500 MW tenders that are expected to bring online another 3 GW of solar in the period 2017-2019. Under this tender mechanism, PV plant operators sell their power output to the electricity market, and not to EDF or other power providers as under the FIT mechanism, but are also entitled to receive an ex post tariff complementing the sale of power to the market.