This past Monday (Jan. 7) the France announced it would support 1 gigawatt (GW) of new solar in the country this year in an attempt to staunch the loss of jobs in an industry that’s shed about half its jobs over the past two years. It’s just one of a number of changes that the country’s energy department is making to encourage more solar and wind in 2013 as the country tries to meet pollution reduction goals.
The changes were announced by French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Delphine Batho. "Many jobs were lost because of the (former) government's yo-yo policies. But we will fight ... to develop the ecological competitiveness of France," Reuters reported she said during an event at MPO Energy, which makes solar modules and started making CDs and DVDs.
The move is anticipated to spur about 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion) in investments and help the country stop the loss of jobs in the sector. The ministry estimated that the costs to the public would be between 90 and 70 million euros or 1 to 2 euros per household. In 2010, for instance, 32,500 people worked in solar in France. In 2012 that number fell to 18,000. In a further attempt to help the industry, the ministry is trying to encourage use of locally-made modules rather than foreign made modules.
The ministry will support 400 megawatts of larger facilities, 120 megawatts of mid-sized systems and 400 megawatts of residential solar. The large systems are those systems over 250 kilowatts and will consist of CPV, and PV tracking. As well as rooftops and carport installations. To help encourage appropriate developments, the ministry will support developing solar on brownfields, old quarries or landfills etc. There will also be another call for innovative technologies in 2013, according to the ministry.
For medium and smaller facilities, Batho also made changes. Rooftop installations between 100 kilowatts and 250 kilowatts will be allowed under an automatic bidding process. The 120 megawatts will be offered in three tranches of 40 megawatts. And the endpoint carbon footprint of PV modules will be considered as part of the pricing.
Small systems, those up to 100 kilowatts in size are being doubled to 500 megawatts in 2013 as well. And, PV modules with “Made in EU” will receive an additional up to 10 percent feed-in tariff boost.