France’s wind energy targets might be in jeopardy due to legal wrangling over the country’s support scheme for wind energy, the French Wind Energy Association, FEE, warned yesterday.
“France was a promising market, but regulatory problems have led to a decline in new wind energy installations,” Nicolas Wolff, FEE President, told journalists attending EWEA’s 2013 Annual Event in Vienna.
Wind power installations in 2012 were down 35% compared to 2011 installations, “far below what they should be,” Wolff said, adding that in 2012 only 750 megawatts were built when the sector needs to be adding 1,200/1,300 MW per year to meet the country’s targets of 25 GW by 2020.
Last year French President François Hollande said France should reduce its currently high dependency rate on nuclear power from 75% to 50%, and that renewables should fill the gap. Previously to that Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s former president, set the 25 GW wind energy target, aiming to supply 10% of French electricity production.
Current problems in the French wind power sector stem from the fact that the French government did not notify the European Commission of its support scheme for wind energy – a measure the Commission requires for all forms of state aid.
“The French government hasn’t done its job, and therefore we recommend a new Feed-in Tariff with notification to the European Commission,” Wolff said. A new FiT scheme would avoid the uncertainty over the current scheme which is now being referred to the European Court of Justice, and a decision is not expected until November, Wolff explained.
Another issue affecting the French wind energy sector is the long time it takes to get a permit to develop a new wind farm, Wolff said. In Germany a new wind farm can get a permit in 2.5 years, but in France it takes at least 6.5 years, he stated.