France – between nuclear and renewables

France is set to add another 855 MW of solar energy to its production after the completion of its fifth major solar PV auction. The auction approved a total of 118 new ground-mounted solar PV projects – Obton’s French subsidiary, Coruscant Développement, is responsible for two of these.  

France is moving rapidly ahead in order to deliver on its grand renewable energy ambitions. The country has just closed its fifth round of auctions for ground-mounted solar PV projects. The result: 118 approved projects with a total capacity of 855 MW.  

Read our article on the French energy transition here. 

From a national perspective, the country needs every single MW. France intends to more than double its renewable energy production by 2028: from 48.6 GW at the end of 2017 to 113 GW by 2028. 

Solar capacity is set to grow the most. The 8.4 GW capacity at the end of 2018 will grow to 40 GW by 2028 – a more than fourfold increase in installed capacity. This means that France will need to add more than 3 GW of new solar capacity every year until 2028. 

To help stimulate this expansion, France introduced their ground-mounted PV programme in 2016, which aims to tender a total of 3 GW new solar PV capacity over 6 auctions. It was the fifth round of auctions that has recently closed. 

Here, Obton’s French subsidiary, Coruscant Développement, secured two carport projects with a total combined capacity of 3 MW.

Just getting started

- Naturally, we are very pleased to get the green light for our two projects in Vendée and Bouches-du-Rhône, but we have more than 100 MW of projects in our pipeline, so we are just getting started, says Jean-Luc Leloup, Managing Director of Coruscant Développement. 

France’s ground-mounted solar PV programme awards a premium tariff to project winners, which they receive on top of power sales revenues. 

Obton acquired Coruscant Développement in 2017, and so far the company has 40 MW of solar installations operational in France. The company sees great potential in fitting solar PV projects onto existing infrastructure and has specialized in turning roof tops of parking facilities and factories into solar energy projects. 

- These auctions are won by offering the best price, and we are happy to say that we have a good track record for taking projects from early planning to viable and competitive energy projects, Jean-Luc says.

Navigating French bureaucracy

Although France is in a hurry to expand its renewable energy production, the administrative process of developing solar PV projects is a time-consuming process. 

-  It takes patience and a good understanding of French bureaucracy to get the necessary permits for a solar PV project. Throughout the whole process we need to maintain good relations with local landowners, authorities, and government agencies. Here we have an obvious advantage over foreign investors, who are not familiar with the French solar market, says Jean-Luc Leloup.   

CEO of Obton, Anders Marcus, sees the two approved solar PV projects as confirmation that the company’s approach to the French solar market is sound and competitive.

 - Since acquiring Coruscant we have kept a focus on our fields of expertise. These two projects serve to justify our approach and raise expectations for the pipeline of projects we have lined up in the coming years, he says.   

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