New rules kill market for household wind

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Just as large utility scale wind plant in France sell their power into the grid at fixed premium purchase prices, so did small grid-connected wind turbines, typically under 36 kW, until July 13. Since then, however, new rules require all wind turbines to be built within a wind power development zone (ZDE) to qualify for inclusion in the protected market. As a result, a 30 kW machine is now bound by the same siting regulations as a 3 MW turbine, even though the impact on the landscape and the grid are not remotely comparable. Effectively, the market for household wind turbines in France has been killed stone dead. While domestic scale wind generation remains marginal, the sector's "potential to contribute to national and European targets should not be ignored," argues trade association the Renewable Energy Syndicate (SER), noting that local economies benefit from small turbines which provide jobs among small businesses and in rural areas. As to breathing new life into the market, SER, in its submission to "La Grenelle de l'environnement," a public consultation to establish environmental policy in France, calls for the law to be amended so that small turbines are excluded from the regulations governing ZDEs and once again have access to the premium purchase price.

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