As we near the end of a year that seemed endless, it’s time to reflect. Despite the challenges of a global pandemic and the economic downturn that ensued, the french solar pv market managed to put down a strong year on the books. A small grasp from some of q4’s major headlines easily testifies to that fact.
First and foremost, France has officially crossed the magical threshold of 10 GW of cumulatively installed solar PV capacity. The country’s Ministry of Energy's Department of Data and Statistical Studies blew the party horn early in June, but in November the Association of Electricity Distributors and grid operators Enedis and RTE also underwrote the achievement, confirming the fact after Q3.
Apart from realizing a solid number of added capacity, France also confirmed new domestic manufacturing capacity, as Norwegian group REC identified the for a 4 GW solar module factory in Hambach, in the northeastern region of Moselle, bringing with it €680 million worth of investment.
The Success of French companies actually was felt worldwide, from Akuo's commissioning of a 50 MW plant in Mali to Engie’s inking of massive solar & wind PPAs (650 MW) with tech giant Amazon in the US.
In the field of innovation, France also made itself heard, both in high-tech and low-tech ways. French scientists managed to build a semi-transparent dye-sensitized mini solar panel with an active area of 14 cm2 based on benzothiadiazole-based photosensitizers (try saying that 5 times in a row). Elsewhere, an alliance of French companies Ombrea and RES partnered on the development of innovative PV shade systems that could contribute to the realization of the great potential of Agrivoltaics.
But it doesn’t all have to be high-tech! Sometimes, a return to basics can be just as remarkable. An eyebrow-raising example of that was the 250kW solar park in southwestern France that was built using a raw wood structure, sourced from surrounding forests.
Of course, we can’t overlook the rougher edges either. The growing market is not without its challenges and potential risks. Government announcements regarding subsidy cuts in the sector were met with strong criticism from the industry, which warns of ‘economic catastrophe’ if they were to go ahead.