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27 August 2015

France doubles solar tender to 800MW after passing historic energy laws

The French government has doubled the size of an upcoming solar energy tender from 400 megawatts to 800 megawatts after approving a historic energy transition bill to cut greenhouse emissions by 75 per cent by 2050.

The French government had set the limit for the new solar energy tender at 400 MW but following the announcement of new energy laws and with the international UN Climate Change Conference to taking place in Paris in December, officials decided to double the limit.

Bid prices for solar energy projects have fallen to a similar level as wind energy project bids leading to France’s unprecedented decision to double the tender.

France's National Assembly approved the country's energy transition bill earlier this month with the aim of reducing the country’s reliance on nuclear energy to 50 per cent of power generation by 2025.

French president Francois Hollande's 2012 election campaign included pledges to limit the share of nuclear power in the nation’s energy mix and close France's oldest nuclear power plant, Fessenheim, by the end of 2016.

Following a national energy debate in June 2014, the French government announced that the nation’s nuclear generating capacity would be capped at the current level of 63.2 GWe and will be limited to 50 per cent of France's total output by 2025.

Debate about the country’s Energy Transition for Green Growth bill began in the lower house of parliament, known asthe National Assembly, in October last year, with agreement being reached on the main objectives of the bill which include:

  • a 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and a 75 per cent reduction by 2050, compared with 1990 levels;
  • halving overall energy consumption by 2050 compared with 2012;
  • increasing renewable energy's share of final energy consumption to 32 per cent;
  • and cutting the share of nuclear in electricity generation to 50 per cent by 2025.

The new 400 MW of tender capacity will be awarded to projects that are in line with the original bid deadline back in June.

Project bids totalling more than 2000 MW of capacity were submitted as part of the original tender, competing for the initial 200 MW of ground-mounted solar project capacity.

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