French renewable energy production up over 23% in 2015
Energy policy/renewable energy – Communiqué issued following the Council of Ministers’ meeting
Paris, 10 February 2016
The development of renewable energy in France
The Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy and the Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector made a statement on the development of renewable energy in France.
In 2014, renewable energy accounted for 14.3% of energy consumption in France: wood was the main contributor, followed by hydroelectricity and biofuels.
In 2015, renewable energy production increased by more than 23% (not including hydroelectricity), with 1,000 MW of new wind capacity and 900 MW of new solar capacity. According to the industry, 2,000 jobs were created in 2014 in the wind-energy sector. The latest call for tender for photovoltaic projects is going to generate nearly €1 billion of investment and put 5,000 people to work on bringing the chosen facilities into service.
The implementation of the Paris Agreement commits France to speeding up the energy transition and setting an example in the development of renewable energy in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen France’s security of supply. It also represents an industrial opportunity for the regions.
The Energy Transition for Green Growth Act sets an ambitious goal of raising the share of renewable energy in total energy consumption to 32% in 2030. By that date, renewable energy should account for 40% of electricity production, 38% of final heat consumption, 15% of final fuel consumption and 10% of gas consumption. These targets are even more ambitious for Overseas France, whose goal set by the energy transition act is to reach 50% of renewable energy by 2030.
To achieve this, a great deal has started to be done to simplify administrative procedures, increase the number of calls for tender, improve financing conditions, support French industry and the emergence of innovative technology and back regional projects. Among other things, this involves:
making trials of the wind and biogas single permit, which has been in operation since 1 November 2015, more widespread;
simplifying the regulatory framework for marine renewable energy by a decree of 10 January 2016, which limits time periods for appeal and secures projects;
launching a call for projects which is financed by the Investing in the Future programme, to develop experimental floating wind farms;
doubling the latest call for tender for photovoltaic projects;
launching a call for tender for photovoltaic projects in areas not connected to France’s mainland network (Corsica and the overseas departments);
simplifying procedures applicable to shallow geothermal energy;
raising the purchase price for electricity produced by biogas plants;
increasing the biofuel incorporation rate for transport, which accounted for nearly 7.5% of fuel consumption in 2014, with a growing share for advanced biofuels;
doubling the Heat Fund to finance heat and cooling networks and the renewable heating and cooling production;
carrying out a reform of the contribution au service public de l’électricité (CSPE), adopted in the additional budget act for 2015, which will see fossil fuel consumption taxed to finance renewable energy;
reforming support mechanisms in order to comply with European guidelines and secure project funding.
Efforts must be stepped up further, to achieve the targets set by the Energy Transition for Green Growth Act. The development of renewable energy is a priority in the major works plan announced by the President in his New Year greetings to the French people.
Actions will be speeded up in 2016 in five priority areas, to increase again by 25% the good results from 2015 and create new jobs.
1. – Continuing to simplify administrative procedures by shortening the period for issuing and processing calls for tender by more than six months, removing the 12-MW threshold beyond which renewable energy production units currently do not benefit from support, exonerating nearly all renewable energy production units from [requiring] authorization to operate under the Energy Code, abolishing purchase obligation certificates and extending the validity of town-planning permits to 10 years.
2. – Extending calls for tender and the mobilization of the Heat Fund. The implementation of sectorial targets and the timetable for the next calls for tender will be proposed by the end of February in the framework of the Multiannual Energy Programme, to raise the profile of manufacturers and plan capacity-building. For photovoltaic energy, two multiannual three-year calls for tender will be issued in the first quarter of 2016 for ground-mounted and rooftop plants. Another call for tender will be issued for the installation of self-consumption systems. For biomass, a call for tender has just been issued today to develop medium-sized projects harnessing wood energy and waste. Projects using crowdfunding from individuals and communities will be allocated a bonus. For small-scale hydroelectric plants, particularly mills, a call for tender will be issued at the beginning of March, as soon as the energy regulation commission has given its advice. For renewable heat, projects examined in 2016 will enjoy a low interest rate to take account of the decrease in oil prices. A new call for tender will be organized to facilitate access to wood resources (the second call for tender for “Dynamic Bois”, which enabled 24 projects to receive €35 million of support in 2015). Finally, consultations on suitable areas will be finalized so that a call for tender can be issued for new offshore wind farms.
3. – Mobilizing the regions. The positive-energy regions for green growth selected by the Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy are important vectors for the actions the government is taking to speed up the rollout of renewable energy.
4. – Creating a financial architecture to support the growth in investment. To support developers, equity capital contributions could be released to strengthen project companies. A decree prepared by the Minister of Finance and Public Accounts in accordance with the Energy Transition for Green Growth Act also aims to facilitate crowdfunding for renewable energy. Finally, to improve renewable energy’s value on the electricity market and reduce the unit cost of the state support provided, the government will propose measures to bolster the carbon price in Europe.
5. – Developing French industrial networks in France and for export. This goal is central to the government’s action in the framework of future industry and its nine industrial solutions, as well as the organization of a network of innovative Green Tech start-ups within La French Tech. In the first two streams of the Investing in the Future Programme, more than €2 billion has been devoted to this area. The Eco-technologies Fund and the SPI Fund [industrial projects fund], both run by BPI France [French Public Investment Bank], will continue to support the French industrial fabric by acquiring stakes. The government will also continue to support export companies, whether it be through the support proposed by Business France and the work of the Strategic Committee of Eco-Industries, in liaison with the renewable energies federator appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development. COP21 also provided an opportunity for French manufacturers to take part in international coalitions like the International Solar Alliance and the Global Geothermal Alliance./.
Image: Olivier Tétard