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European Commission approves French renewable energy initiatives under state aid rules

The European Commission has given approval under EU state aid rules to three renewable energy initiatives that will jointly produce more than 17 gigawatts (Gw) of energy.09 May 2017

The schemes will support electricity production from small-scale onshore wind, solar and sewage gas installations, and will help France to achieve its target of producing 23% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, the Commission said.

The onshore wind scheme will pay a premium on top of the market price to operators of small-scale installations with less than six turbines, with an individual limit of 3 megawatts (Mw) per turbine. The scheme has a budget of €1 billion a year and hopes to support 15Gw of extra capacity over the next ten years, the Commission said.

The solar support scheme will target small-scale photovoltaic installations in buildings, offering a feed-in tariff over 20 years. The remuneration will depend on the size of the installation and the business model, as some will inject all of the energy they produce into the grid and others will consume part of the electricity generated. France expects to develop 2.1Gw of energy though this scheme, which has a budget of €190 million a year.

France estimates that a further 160Mw could be produced from sewage gas installations, the Commission said. Most of the current installations produce less than 1Mw each and that is likely to continue. Under the €58m scheme, installations of 500 kilowatts (Kw) or more will receive support in the form of a premium on top of the market price for 20 years and those producing less than 500Kw will receive a feed-in tariff over that period.

The schemes will boost the share of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in France in line with the environmental objectives of the EU, while the distortion of competition caused by the state support is minimised, the Commission said.