Solar is essential to build the France of 2030


From pv magazine France.

With its ‘France Relance' Covid-19 recovery plan, which apportioned €30 billion for the energy transition, the French government identified its priorities for bouncing back from the public health crisis. It is a plan, according to president Emmanuel Macron, designed to “take our destiny in our own hands and build the France of 2030.”

It is also a plan, according to Xavier Daval, CEO of solar technical advisory KilowattSol, which offers no clear recognition of the crucial role which could be played by PV.

“I am astonished to note, once again, that solar energy is not mentioned in this great plan, whereas this source of energy is slated to occupy, unanimously, by all the experts, a particular place in this century's global energy mix,” Daval told pv magazine. “This misunderstanding is perhaps due to the fact that beyond the widespread image of large solar fields connected to the grid, the photovoltaic principle opens up many other perspectives which obviously escape our elite.”

The KilowattSol chief said, in a world in which digital devices, tactile interfaces and internet of things applications multiply, all such equipment would need distributed power sources. Daval said one of the missions of government would be to intervene in the management, contracting authority, development and modernization of the infrastructures of the networks essential to the economy of the country. “It seems that the government high-level bureaucrats who are involved in drafting these stimulus plans have still not integrated the digitization of our society,” he said before adding, in reference to the defense fortifications of his country during the Second World War, “will they, like their predecessors who inspired the Maginot Line, still be late for a war?”

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Daval pointed out, while debate rages about 5G technology and its security uncertainties, the issue of solar panels – which will be the most widespread power source on the planet and will thus constitute the building block of a distributed electrical infrastructure – does not even deserve a line in the French coronavirus recovery plan. “And we would leave the manufacturing monopoly to China?” asked the CEO, in reference to his call for Europe to re-establish its solar manufacturing credentials.


The chief executive said France, which he claims boasts the world’s premier PV experts in its research centres, risks being excluded from the solar world unless it takes control of the upstream, manufacturing segment of the industry. “According to an adage well known to the military,” said the CEO, “'Who keeps the highs, holds the lows,' mastery of silicon and the manufacture of the most advanced technologies of photovoltaic conversion cells must be part of a great strategic plan, especially if we call it ‘green.' Let's not confuse the main and the secondary; PV conversion produces carbon-free energy whereas storage is only a means of controlling its timing.”

The CEO also mentioned how climate change will accelerate desertification, which can best be combated by populations planting their land and continuing agricultural activity. “This fight will be all the more effective if these populations have energy sources allowing them access to healthcare, education and information where they live. Solar energy, well beyond our ‘tiny' problems of a decarbonized French electric mix is, above all, one of the keys to a peaceful future for the planet, and our country has so much talent to mobilize that we cannot miss this appointment with history.”

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