French renewable energy: €600 million for solar innovation

French renewable energy
© iStock/typo-graphics

As President Macron makes a push for French renewable energy advances, the European Commission has approved €600 million to support solar power innovation in France.

The funding, financed by the French State budget, will be made available to support innovative solar installations with capacities between 100 kilowatts and five megawatts. Support will take the form of guaranteed tariffs or “compléments de remuneration” (compensation supplements, a premium paid on top of market price to incentivise French renewable energy developments).

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “The [French renewable energy] initiative the Commission is approving today will encourage investment in innovative solar installations. It will contribute to France’s transition to low carbon, environmentally sustainable energy supply, in line with the EU environmental objectives and our state aid rules.”

French President Emmanuel Macron announced today that France aimed to shut down 14 of its 58 nuclear reactors by 2035 as part of his government’s pledge to reduce the country’s reliance on nuclear power to 50 per cent. In a speech detailing future plans for French renewable energy, Macron said: “Reducing the role of nuclear energy does not mean renouncing it.”

In the same speech Macron announced the impending closure of France’s four remaining coal plants by 2022. He declared the country’s intention to triple its current wind energy production and increase its solar energy output fivefold by 2030. Under the Renewable Energy Directive French renewable energy must comprise at least 23 per cent of the country’s total output by 2020.

Macron’s dedication to promoting French renewable energy at the expense of traditional fuel options has led to conflict with French citizens, as an increase in fuel tax due to take effect in January 2019 sparked outrage among drivers. The gilets jaunes movement, a nationwide campaign protesting the tax rises, has conducted protests and road blocks across France; bursts of violence at some of the protests have left hundreds of civilians and police officers injured. Macron has promised €500 million to subsidise low income and rural drivers, but has so far refused to consider revoking the tax rises.

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