France to diversify with photovoltaic, biomass

PARIS, FRANCE - The Commission de Regulation de l'Energie, the French commission that regulates the country's energy sector, recently announced the start of a bidding process to build a solar photovoltaic plant in each region of France by 2011.

The aim is to increase the installed capacity of renewable energy generation capacity by 300 megawatts (MW). At the same time, there is an ongoing tender to build biomass-fired units.

The 300 MW of new capacity would come from 27 units across the country from 5-MW to 10-MW units.

The tender also includes regions outside the metropolitan area, such as Corsica, Guayane, Guadaloupe, Martinique, Mayot and Reunion. These regions are projected to have 5-MW projects built, except for Reunion, where there are two 5-MW units planned. For these regions, which are not connected to the metropolitan grid, the planned installations are energy-stocking facilities.

France seeks to catch up with other European countries like Germany, Italy and Spain, where solar photovoltaic power production has been growing steadily. For related information, view May 15, 2009, news article - Iberdrola's First Solar Thermal Power Plant Inaugurated.

Until 2008, about 70 MW of solar photovoltaic power was connected to the grid in France. About 60% of the installed capacity is concentrated in three regions: Languedoc-Roussillon, Rhone-Alpes and Pays de la Loire. Between 2006 and 2008, projects for about 1,600 MW have been authorized by the energy ministry. A recent announcement made by Voltalia to build a 104-MW solar power plant in the village of Barben, between the Salon and Aix-en-Provence regions, also shows a spin in the country's investment pattern.

After European objectives settled to increase renewable energy production by about 20% by 2020, the country has been developing incentives in several sectors in addition to photovoltaic, such as in biomass-fired units. Since the beginning of the year, the commission has had a tender that will remain open until mid-July for the construction of 250 MW in biomass power generation for 2012.


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