French environmental report is 'fundamentally anti-wind'

FRANCE: A report by a French parliamentary committee into how France meets its environmental targets could spell the death knell for the wind industry claims Philippe Plisson, co-rapporteur of the committee, who resigned last week in protest.

The report, due to be released on March 30, will inform the debate on the Grenelle 2 bill, which is now in its final parliamentary stages. Grenelle 2 is supposed to lay out how France will meet its environmental objectives, including 25GW of installed wind power by 2020.

Among other things, the committee was asked to set out the arguments for and against wind power, the economics of wind and its social and environmental acceptability. However, Plisson claims the draft is "fundamentally anti-wind".

Not surprising, perhaps, when the president of the committee, Patrick Ollier, is a known opponent of wind energy. Ollier is quoted as saying he wants to end the speculation around wind energy and put a stop to its "anarchic" development.

While the report is not yet public, some details have emerged. Broadly, it recommends tighter regulations governing where turbines can be installed and even suggests a freeze on building until the new regulations resulting from Grenelle 2 and the forthcoming regional energy plans are in place. That could slow down development for the next five years, Plisson believes.

The report claims that "turbines are spoiling the countryside," according to Fabrice Cassin, specialist in environmental law and vice-president of the French Wind Energy Association (FEE).

It recommends that the duration of the guaranteed premium purchase price be reduced from 15 to ten years for onshore installations, and that the highest tariff be paid only for the first five years of operation.

Furthermore, owners will be required to produce an "activity report" every two years covering economic and technical details, and turbines will be subject to continuous noise monitoring for at least three months after commissioning.

Cassin believes Plisson's resignation will take some of the sting out of the report, since it will no longer be unanimous. Nevertheless, it is bound to have some influence on proceedings, especially as the Assembly (the lower house), which will shortly give Grenelle 2 its final vote, has previously shown itself generally opposed to wind power.


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