France Sets Targets for Renewable Energy

The French government has agreed to introduce targets for the development of renewable energy, according to regulations issued last Thursday.

PARIS, France – The program will require that 21 percent of French electricity must be generated from renewable sources within this decade. The installed capacity of wind energy will be 5,000 megawatts, which will be constructed with a public fund of 4 billion francs ($548 million) that will be raised through a fee of one centime per kilowatt hour (ct/KWh). Another fund of 500 million francs will encourage the development of hydroelectric dams through a consumer charge of 0.1 ct/kWh, while 200 million francs will finance biomass facilities from a charge of 0.05 ct/KWh. The plan will set guaranteed prices to be paid by the national utility, Electricite de France, to pay 55 centimes per KWh for the first five years from wind farms that are smaller than 12 MW capacity. Current production rates for wind power is 30 ct/KWh. Hydroelectric plants will be paid 36 ct/KWh for plants over 500 MW and 40 ct/KWh for smaller plants, while incineration plants will receive 27.4 ct/kWh. The program will also support domestic water heating by solar thermal systems, research into thin film solar photovoltaic (PV) and further research into the potential of geothermal energy in the Alsace region near the border with Germany. French environment minister Dominique Voynet issued the plan within the framework of a European Union directive that was adopted last week by the EU Council of Ministers. That directive sets an overall target of 22.1 percent of renewable electricity production by 2010 for the EU. France already generates 14 percent of its electricity from hydroelectric dams, which have an installed capacity of 23,000 MW. Three years ago, the government adopted a target of 3,000 MW from wind power by 2005. Last year, total wind capacity was 22 MW. Despite being one of the early pioneers in hydroelectric power, France relies more on nuclear power than any other country on Europe. The government also announced a new investment fund, Fonds d’Intervention pour l’Environnement et la Maitrise de l’Energie, to finance new projects. The French program is part of a wider national effort to increase energy efficiency. The concept of trading emission credits to promote renewable energy was not disqualified under the government announcement.

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