French wind connections fall 58% in 1H 2012

FRANCE: The number of new wind power plant connected to the grid fell by 58% in France in the first six months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, according to the latest government statistics.

The figures show that 196MW were added this year, against 467MW in the first half of 2011. This indicates an even sharper fall than previously reported by distribution network manager ERDF, and suggests that total new capacity for 2012 will fall far short of the 832MW added last year.

At the same time, in its latest analysis of supply and demand to 2017, grid operator RTE predicts new wind installations in France will only grow by 800MW a year, well below the 1.4GW needed each year to reach its onshore target of 19GW in 2020.

The industry has long warned that deployment was teetering on a cliff-edge thanks to ever stricter regulations compounded by uncertainties over the premium purchase price for onshore wind.

RTE estimates the resulting slowdown in new wind power capacity, combined with the closure of old fossil-fuel plants (in line with EU directives), will lead to an estimated shortfall in capacity of 1.2GW in 2016. The gap will increase to 2.7GW in 2017 when the Fessenheim nuclear reactor is due to close.

As far as grid infrastructure is concerned, RTE estimates it will invest €1 billion to accommodate on and offshore wind up to 2020.

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