Ground-mounted PV auction set to boost France’s capacity by 10%

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Engie won four projects totally 76.1MW, including a 28MW project in the Provence Côte-d’Azur region of south-eastern France and a 32MW project in Nouvelle Aquitaine in the south-west. Source: Engie

A major ground-mounted PV auction in France is set to boost the country’s solar capacity by 10%, with 107 developers successfully bidding on 858MW of capacity spread evenly across the country.

In the sixth and final auction in the government's ground-mounted PV programme, the average price across all auction bids was €64/MWh (around US$72/MWh), or a 2% rise on the previous round of tenders in March.

Mean prices reached €59.5/MWh (US$66/MWh) for projects exceeding 5MW and €67.5/MWh (US$75/MWh) for projects between 500kW-5MW.

Engie won four projects totalling 76.1MW, including a 28.65MW project in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region of south-eastern France and a 32.37MW project in Nouvelle-Aquitaine in the south-west.

Forty-four percent of projects were in northern and central France.

France’s ground-mounted PV programme was launched in August 2016 and set out to tender 3GW throughout six 500MW batches. At 858MW in this round, the government tendered 71% more capacity than initially planned.

This auction will bring France closer to its goal of boosting its PV capacity from 9.1GW today to between 35.6GW and 44.5GW in nine years, split between ground-mounted (20.6-25GW) and rooftop (15-19.5GW) plants.

Deployment in France is still largely driven by auctions and subsidies. A spokesperson from the government told PV Tech that it will tender up to 2GW annually over the coming years to meet its target.

Wood Mackenzie predicts that France will be Europe’s third fastest solar installer over the next five years, adding 17GW of production.

Winners of the first round of the ground-solar auction were revealed in March 2017, followed by similar announcements for the second (July 2017), third (February 2018), fourth (August 2018) and fifth tender (March 2019). Average prices have ranged from €58.2/MWh in round four to €64/MWh in this final round.

The scheme is designed to support winners through a premium tariff, which they receive on top of power sale revenues. More than half of the projects in this round will win a more generous premium because they involve communities through investment or crowd-funding.

France runs separate auction schemes for rooftop solar, solar-plus-storage, self-consumption and more innovative technologies such as floating solar.

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