French administration considers building solar plants on its own premises

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Several entities within the French administration are currently considering the construction of solar parks on their own premises, according to information provided to pv magazine by Xavier Daval, the VP of French renewable energy association SER and CEO and President of KiloWattsol SAS.

According to him, public institutions expressed their favourable disposition toward solar during the first workshops of the so-called “Work group for solar energy” announced last month by the French government, and organized along with the country’s whole PV industry. The workshops are seeing the participation of officials coming from local, regional and central institutions, including important ministries such as the Defence, Agriculture and Finance ministries.

“Most of public entities in France dispose of unutilized surfaces or properties, which may be provided to further boost solar development, while reducing their expenses for power supply” Daval stressed.

The reason for such an interest, Daval explained, is to find in the acknowledgement that solar PV is the most cost effective renewable energy and large volumes are required to support the French energy transition. This priority has been expressed by most of the participants to the work groups, and supported by the French Minister Of Ecological and Solidary Transition (MTES), Nicolas Hulot through the official increase from 1.45 to 2.45 GW of the annual capacity allocated to solar tenders.

“We firmly believe that an annual market of 3 GW is quite reasonable, and we want to go there,” Daval asserted.

In its wish-list presented during a series of workshops, the SER has also called on the government, among other things, to increase capacity in addition to that provided by current tenders, while maintaining differentiation within project-type tenders, and to reduce the bureaucratic burden for the projects’ development, thus speeding up approval proceedings.

Another interesting suggestion proposed by Daval was the possibility of replicating in France the Technology Top Runner Program implemented by China’s central government. The program, conceived to promote quality and innovation in the large-scale solar segment, is expected to reach 5 GW of operational PV capacity by the end of this year in China. It sets out high standards for PV conversion efficiency, decay ratio and many other of the chief specifications related to efficient PV plants.

Daval believes that a similar initiative could be possible in France. “Our solar community would benefit of such a win/win program providing market and references to European innovations,” Daval further explained.

Overall, five workshops are set up in the frame of the solar work group: self-consumption; industry; solar heating; land & permitting; overseas territories and Corsica. “The calling of the work group reflects the real change of mentality toward solar at the most higher level in France, now there is an open communication channel between us and the policy makers,” Daval concluded.

France had reached approximately 8 GW of installed PV capacity at the end of last year, according to the latest statistics released by the Ministry for an Ecological and Inclusive Transition (MTES).