Hollande to breathe new life into wind

FRANCE: The French government wants to prioritise a relaunch the wind sector by simplifying its regulatory framework and ensuring stable support, president Francois Hollande said in his first speech on energy in mid-September.

The move is in line with his commitment to cut the share of nuclear power in the electricity mix from roughly 78% today to 50% in 2025. This will require "a real policy for renewables", Hollande told the annual environmental conference in Paris, conceding that France is behind its 2020 targets.

The government says it will scrap the wind power development zones (ZDEs) established in 2007 to define areas within which turbines must be built to benefit from the guaranteed premium power purchase price. The industry argues that ZDEs have been made redundant by the introduction of regional wind-power plans, which also identify "favourable" areas for wind development.

Not only do the two schemes create unnecessary layers of procedure, but ZDEs are easily challenged in the courts, said Nicolas Wolff, president of the French Wind Energy Association. However, questions still remain, such as whether the government will make changes to the regional plans at the same time (see page 32).

Fresh offshore bidding round

The government also announced a second offshore tender, for 1.35GW, to be launched by the end of the year. Given that only 1.93GW was awarded in the first tender, this suggests at least one more round will be needed to meet the 2020 target of 6GW (see page 38).

Finally, the government will introduce a new tariff better suited to the deployment of wind power in the overseas territories. The present rate of EUR0.11/kWh, set in 2006, is now too low to stimulate development.

While the industry is largely satisfied with the outcome of the conference, it was hoping for concrete measures concerning the onshore tariff, which is being challenged in the Court of Justice of the European Union. Uncertainty over the tariff has made banks reluctant to lend and contributed to a marked slowdown in new-build. "If they haven't sorted out the tariff by the end of the year, it will be a very very delicate situation," Wolff warned.

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