France gives boost to rooftop solar with wider tariff access

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From pv magazine France.

The French government has widened access to the fixed tariffs available for self-consumption solar installations in “a measure dictated by common sense to help farmers accelerate their ecological transition!” according to the minister who announced the move.

With self-consumption PV systems with a generation capacity of 5-100 kW previously qualifying for fixed payments for excess power fed back into the grid – and spared the onerous requirement to be procured through a tender process – the upper size limit has now been raised to 300 kW.

The development was confirmed in a tweet by minister for the ecological and inclusive transition Elisabeth Borne, who was attending an agricultural fair.

Excluded

“This government decision is the result of two years of work alongside our energy partners, with whom we have brought this request since the work started by Sébastien Lecornu in 2018,” said the National Federation of Trades Unions of Farmers. “In recent years, the considerable drop in incentive levels and the complexity of the tenders have effectively excluded farmers from the procurement exercises. Agricultural projects are certainly more expensive because they achieve less economy of scale than … those of big developers, but they also have many positive externalities.”

French solar trade body Enerplan said the long-expected measure will facilitate the development of solar projects on medium-sized roofs – defined as 600-2,000m² – in the agricultural sector in particular. “This measure materializes the confidence that the public authorities place in solar energy and in the purchase price [fixed tariff] as a mechanism to support the development of medium-sized projects, in place of tenders that no longer had a place,” the association said.

More ambition

Enerplan believes wider entitlement to tariffs will become a real accelerator for rooftop PV and called for the government to be even more ambitious. “We regret, however, that this measure does not concern projects between 300 and 500 kWp,” said the trade body’s president, Daniel Bour.

France resumed self-consumption project tenders in June after a two-month hiatus blamed on a low level of participation.

In July, French customs authorities clarified solar energy consumers are exempt from an internal tax on the final consumption of electricity. Although the exemption is stated in the Customs Code, the authorities had to confirm the energy consumer is exempt even if the solar rooftop is owned by a third party under a leasing arrangement.