Leading PV industry and political figures have sent an open letter to the French government imploring it to hold a consultation regarding the proposed review of the country's solar feed-in tariff (FiT).
Signatories including members of the European Parliament (MEPs), two former environment ministers of France and the European Photovoltaic Association (EPIA), wrote the letter in response to a speech given by Philippe Martin, the French minister for ecology, sustainable development and energy, in which he said France's solar support scheme would be reviewed.
In his speech, given at a symposium of Union Française de l’Électricité, the French electricity union, Martin said many of the support mechanisms for solar and other renewables had served their purpose in helping new technologies compete.
The open letter, initiated by Yannick Jadot, MEP for West France, was addressed to Martin and two other ministers, Arnaud Monteberg, minister for industrial renewal and Pierre Moscovici, France’s minister for finance and economics.
It asserted that France “must save its photovoltaic industry”, calling for “resolute actions” by the government to support the PV industry.
It cited the 35,000 jobs created by the industry in the past 10 years as partial proof of PV’s importance to the nation’s future. It also referred to the need for a growing industrial project such as the proliferation of solar power to be backed by legal and financial stability. The authors angrily condemned policy over the past three years as characterised by instability.
The letter, sent on 25 October, pleaded for rapid government intervention, beginning with a consultation with stakeholders, to save the industry.
The authors described a “deep feeling of incomprehension, abandonment and anger that prevails in the sector”.
Martin’s speech announced a new tender to open in early 2014 for projects over 250kW while France’s socialist president François Hollande has publicly reiterated his government’s commitment to renewable energy. The government this week signed a €18.5 million (US$25.4 million), six year finance contract with a solar research and development institute – founded by EDF and Total.