France moves to bolster wind sector

» By | Published 26 Mar 2013
Copyright Charles Delplanque

Copyright Charles Delplanque

After a gloomy couple of years for the wind industry in France, a few glimmers of light have been spotted in recent weeks led by the adoption by the National Assembly of a bill proposed by the Socialist government to simplify measures that have been stymieing the development of the sector.

To boost the production of wind energy in France, help develop other renewable sources of energy and generally encourage the shift towards clean and efficient energy, the government is proposing to weight consumer energy bills according to household consumption from 2016. It has also put forward a raft of measures aimed at making it easier to set up wind farms.

The government proposal suggests a reward/penalty system for calculating consumer energy bills that will take into consideration the amount of energy used, the number of occupants in a household, geographical location, the type of heating system used and local climate conditions.

The law also includes plans to facilitate the construction of small wind farms with fewer than five turbines. Under existing laws, onshore farms must have a minimum of five turbines. This decision is critical if France is to meet its target of 25,000 megawatt installed capacity by 2020, says French renewable energy group SER. France’s total capacity currently stands at about 7,560 MW.

The change will “open up the launch of many projects, especially in western France where over 50% of planned wind farms were stopped in their tracks in 2010 because they did not meet the five-turbine minimum”, comments SER.

The new law should also mean the end of wind development zones (ZDE), whereby a wind turbine has to be erected within a ZDE in order to benefit from the power purchase obligation.

These steps are necessary “for the development of wind energy in France because of the complexity and administrative proceedings on the purchase rate, which slowed the domestic wind industry for three years,” says the French Wind Energy Association, FEE.  “While France offers one of the best wind potentials in Europe, only 757 MW was connected to the grid in 2012, a decrease of over 35% compared to 2010,” it states.

The French Senate is due to examine the text in mid-October.

Meanwhile, in another move to help France reach its ambitious wind power targets, the French energy regulator CRE has published details of its tender for two wind farms, one off the coast of Le Tréport, in the Channel, and the other near the islands of Yeu and Noirmoutier in the Atlantic, for a total capacity of 1,000 megawatts. They are due to come into service between 2021 and 2023, and companies have until 29 November to submit their offers.

Categories: EU energy policy