France deployed 707 MW of solar in first nine months of 2019

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From pv magazine France.

France’s Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition has published new solar installation statistics for the nine months to the end of September. The country added 707 MW of new PV capacity to the grid, bringing cumulative installations to 9.6 GW, with around 300 MW of the year’s new additions deployed in the third quarter alone. In the first three quarters of 2018, by comparison, new capacity additions were only slightly higher at 711 MW.

More than half of the new capacity additions were projects above 250 kW in size, although in number these plants represented less than 1% of all newly connected projects. On the other hand, plants below 9 kW accounted for 86% of the total number of newly connected projects, while representing just 9% of newly installed capacity.

The statistics also reveal that 5.7 GW of approved projects are sitting in the queue for grid-connection, including 1.5 GW of projects that have signed connection agreements – a figure that has increased by 27% since the beginning of the year.

Geographical distribution

France’s 9.64 GW solar fleet is broken down into 9.26 GW of projects at home and 391 MW in its overseas territories, where only 2 MW of new capacity was installed in the third quarter of 2019. In mainland France, the regions of New Aquitaine, Occitanie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur accounted for 69% of all new additions since the beginning of the year.

Electricity generation increased by almost 9.2% year on year to 9.5 TWh in the January-September period. “This increase is mainly due to very favorable sunshine conditions at the beginning of the year, particularly during February, which was unusually sunny over the whole of the year,” the ministry said.

Solar production currently covers about 2.8% of total electricity consumption in France, which is 0.3 points higher than it was in the same period in 2018. To reach its target of 18.2 GW of installed PV by the end of 2023, France will have to maintain an average connection rate of more than 500 MW of solar per quarter.

By comparison, Germany’s new solar installations hit 377 MW in October alone, which is higher in terms of volume than France throughout the entire third quarter. Germany installed 3.33 GW of solar during the January-October period.