France Awards 1.5 GW Solar Capacity, Largest Ever

France Awards 1.5 GW Solar Capacity, Largest Ever

Europe’s largest energy exporter France has finally awarded 1.5GW of ground-mounted solar PV capacity in its latest and largest such auction. Conducted under the Programmation Pluriannuelle de l’Energie (PPE) scheme that focuses on renewable energy, the auction attracted some of the lowest bids ever seen in the country too.

129 projects were declared successful with the  average price coming in at €82.42/MWh. This compares very favourably with the last tender, which attracted bids for just 115 MW at an average price of €82.23/MWh. Interestingly, a significant share of agrivoltaic projects made the cut too, which will involve building PV plants on land that can be used for sheep grazing too.

Bids for the current tender were received for 1.519 GW versus the 1.5GW capacity that was made available. Minimum size was put at 500kWp and a highest of 30MWp capacity, with some exemptions. The limits indicate the challenges inherent in most European countries for utility scale solar projects, even as higher efficiency means some of the latest ones will take up 20% less land than similar sized projects from 5 years back. Northern France, where space availability is relatively easier, took away the higher share of projects above 10 MW size, as compared to Southern France.

Among the winning bidders, Photosol leads with awarded capacity for 257.1MW followed by leading developer Neoen with 226.1MW. Utility firm EDF got 143.7MW.  38 developers eventually qualified through 129 projects.

For Neoen, the fresh awards took its tally in France beyond the 2GW milestone for assets in operation or under construction.

The French success is likely to be the precursor to a series of project awards across large European economies, particularly Spain, Portugal, Germany and even Italy, which will provide some relief perhaps to the module inventory pile up in Europe that has been discussed a lot.

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