France sees first-quarter PV additions almost treble

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France saw the deployment of 246 MW of new PV capacity in the first quarter of this year, according to the latest statistics released by the Ministry for an Ecological and Inclusive Transition (MTES). The figure is almost three times the capacity added in the same period a year earlier, when new installations totaled 86 MW.

Last quarter’s result, however, is down on the previous three months, which saw capacity additions reach 401 MW. The latest two quarters follow a growth trend registered for the last time in 2015, a signal the series of tenders launched by the French government in the second half of 2016 are beginning to bear fruit.

The newly installed capacity this year mainly comes in the form of PV projects exceeding 250 kW in size – which totaled 169 MW. Rooftop projects of up to 250 kW accounted for the remainder.

France’s cumulative installed PV capacity reached 8.29 GW at the end of March, of which 7.91 GW are on the French mainland and 386 MW are in the nation’s overseas territories and Corsica.

PV systems larger than 250 kW account for more than half of the cumulative capacity – more than 4.3 GW – followed by systems ranging in size from 100 kW to 250 kW and installations with a capacity of between 36 kW and 100 kW, which each had a share of around 1.1 GW.

The MTES also reported the aggregate capacity of PV projects awaiting grid connection at the end of March was 3.10 GW, up from 2.87 GW at the end of December, and that of this capacity, 845 MW had already secured grid approval.

The French mainland regions with the highest amount of installed solar are: Nouvelle Aquitanie (with 2.12 GW); Occitanie (1.66 GW); Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (1.14 GW); and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (818 MW). Among France’s overseas territories, La Réunion has the largest share – 189 MW – followed by Guadeloupe (70 MW), Martinique (66 MW), Guiana (46 MW), and Mayotte (15 MW).

In terms of power production, the MTES reported solar saw a 12% increase in the first quarter – around 1.6 TWh. That figure, however, amounted to just 1.1% of France’s total power production for the latest quarter.