Image credit: Pierro / Flickr
France has witnessed this week the signing of a power purchase agreement (PPA) for new solar, bringing activity to a country where corporate deals have lagged behind those of its European neighbours.
On Monday this week, renewable player Voltalia said it will build a new solar portfolio set to power all French sites of retail multinational Auchan, under PPAs covering a 20-year period and featuring as-of-yet undisclosed prices.
In a statement, Voltalia – who will take care of development, financing, construction, operation and maintenance of the solar plants – said the PPA-backed solar fleet will go up in Southern France, amid plans for all to reach commissioning between 2021 and 2022.
Voltalia’s deal with Auchan, a 46-billion-euro-revenue giant with retail centres all across the globe, builds on an existing relationship. As Voltalia explained, deals in the past have seen its subsidiary Helexia install solar arrays across Auchan’s facilities and car parks.
The 61MW deal adds to France’s private solar PPA ecosystem, trailing behind more buoyant markets such as Spain, the UK and Germany. One of the few other noteworthy deals – the 143MW solar PPA signed last June to power France’s trains – also had Voltalia as the sponsoring developer.
Rooftop tender boost as Paris eyes green comeback
The signing of a PPA comes at a time when COVID-19 – and the power price slump that it has caused – is said to be disrupting these deals across European solar, with operators in Spain, Italy and elsewhere told to be “creative” as negotiations become trickier.
In France, the state is looking to use government tenders to bolster the momentum towards steep solar targets between 2019 (9.43GW) and 2028 (35.6 - 44.5GW). As PV Tech learned in late March, the country was persuaded by solar firms to delay but not fully cancel auctions.
The latest tender results, out this week, show that France has awarded 152MW of contracts to 306 rooftop solar bidders. The round, the tenth of the rooftop programme, led to average prices of €93.98/MWh (100kWp-500kWp projects) and €83.06/MWh (500kWp-8MWp).
The rooftop auction – structured online to ensure a smooth interaction between solar firms and authorities – comes as France works, in the words of Environment minister Elisabeth Borne, to make the energy transition part of the COVID-19 recovery.
“As we enter a phase of gradual recovery in activity, we are continuing our discussions with the renewable energy sector to support it, to identify the obstacles to this recovery and to give visibility over the coming months,” Borne said as she unveiled the rooftop tender results.
Mar 09 - Mar 11, 2021
Understand fully the technical and logistical supply chains that determine the production and performance of solar modules, including all related factors impacting quality, reliability & bankability. This event will be run online with streamed content and online networking.
Feb 03 - Feb 04, 2021
The business of solar is changing, as the industry scales up, technology, IT and new players to the market will add complexity. This sparks a host of opportunities such as co-location of solar and storage and the rise of unsubsidised solar projects as well as challenges which will question the very business model of European solar asset owners. Solar Finance & Investment Europe is the meeting place for institutional investors, sovereign wealth funds, solar, wind and storage funds and large energy buyers to do business.