France reports record share of renewables for Q2 2018

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French transmission system operator, Réseau de Transport d’Électricité (RTE) has revealed in an ad-hoc release that renewable energies reached a share of 31% in the country’s electricity mix in the second quarter of this year. This represents a level that has not been reached since the 1960s, before the massive development of nuclear power.

RTE said this result was the combination of three main factors: significant hydropower generation, which covered around 20% of French electricity consumption during the period; an increasing share of wind, solar, and bio-energies which were able to account for over 10% of demand; and the fact that the second quarter of the year is traditionally characterized by lower demand than during the autumn and winter months.

According to the latest statistics released by the French Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition (CSFD), the first quarter of this year has seen a strong growth in new PV installations, with 246 MW of new PV capacity added. Overall, France’s installed solar power had reached around 8.3 GW as of the end of March. This, however, amounted to just 1.1% of France’s total power production for the latest quarter.

69% of demand in the second quarter was covered by nuclear power plants. This share is planned to be reduced to around 50% by 2025, according to recent announcements from the French government. The national state-owned utility, EDF, which is also the owner and operator of most of the country’s nuclear power assets, announced in December 2017 a plan to deploy 30 GW of solar plants in France by 2030.

Meanwhile, France’s Directorate General for Energy and Climate, which is controlled by the CSFD, is defining a tender for the deployment of 300 MW of solar at the Fessenheim nuclear power plant, which is the country’s oldest nuclear site.

French oil company Total also recently revealed a plan to build 10 GW of solar across all of its facilities in France.