France will aim to have more than 100GW of installed solar PV capacity by 2050, President Emmanuel Macron announced on Thursday as part of a new energy strategy that will see the country double down on building new nuclear plants.
The planned renewable expansion, which also includes a target of having 40GW of offshore wind power by 2050, will see France increase its solar capacity almost eightfold after the country reached a total of 13.2GW deployed as of last year.
While the ramp-up will require solar deployment to accelerate, the country is already bidding to reach around 40GW installed by 2028. And Macron’s new target pales in comparison with Germany’s recently announced goal of having 200GW of solar by 2030.
Nonetheless, French renewables trade associations have welcomed the announcement. Jean-Louis Bal, president of Syndicat des Énergies Renouvelables, said that Macron’s statement represents a “clear political signal” that is important given France’s renewable energy sector has been affected by misinformation campaigns in recent months.
During his speech in the eastern town of Belfort yesterday, Macron announced what he described as “the renaissance of the French nuclear”, with plans to build at least six new nuclear reactors that will be constructed and operated by state-controlled utility EDF.
The first new reactor would come online by 2035, while studies for a further eight will also be launched, the president said. Nuclear energy already provides around 70% of France’s electricity.
France’s Climate Action Network, a climate campaign group, denounced the nuclear expansion plans, flagging concerns about the price tag. “The priority must be to make up lost ground on renewable energies, where France is Europe’s bad student,” the group said in a statement.
Recent developments in France’s solar sector have seen investment bank Macquarie acquire a 90% interest in independent power producer Apex Energies Group, while Hanwha Solutions has bought the RES Group’s French renewables development and construction business.