France identifies Carbon, Holosolis PV factories as ‘national interest’ projects

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From pv magazine France

French solar module producers Carbon and Holosolis have secured “project of national interest” status from the French authorities for their solar module factory projects.

“This is a major milestone for our development,” said Carbon Director Etienne Roche told pv magazine.

The green industry law issued in October 2023 created the concept of “projects of national interest,” allowing developers to benefit from exceptional procedures to accelerate their implementation.

These projects are appointed by decree. Once qualified, they come under the jurisdiction of the government for planning authorizations within an exceptional regime where the prefect directly issues the building permit. This allows developers to claim the exemption for the destruction of protected species if applicable. In doing so, in the event of a dispute, it will be necessary to contest the decree rather than the exemption decision.

The aim is to reduce the duration of administrative procedures from almost two years to less than one year with the exemption regime.

“This is very good news in view of the strategic planning of the project which provides for work to begin in mid-2025 for commissioning from the end of 2026,” said Roche.

Carbon plans to start pilot production at its vertically integrated tunnel oxide passivated contact (TOPCon) and IBC solar module factory in Fos-sur-Mer, in southern France, in fall 2025. The factory will use a 500 MW pilot production line for TOPCon panels, initially producing modules with cells sourced in Europe or outside Europe.

Holosolis, a spinoff of EIT InnoEnergy, plans to build a module manufacturing facility in Hambach, near Sarreguemines, in northwestern France. This location was previously the site of an abandoned factory project by Norwegian solar module manufacturer REC, which had planned to build a 4 GW heterojunction panel factory there. The new factory will have a capacity of 5 GW and will start commercial operations in 2027.

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