French minister pushes ahead with wind-powered electricity legislation
The French government is close to passing measures to improve legislative and regulatory conditions for wind-powered electricity generation as part of its overhaul of legislation in the continuing debate about France's energy transition.
At a senate hearing on 17 January, French energy minister Delphine Batho defended measures implemented as part of the new legislation to support the wind-power industry ahead of the new energy policy expected in June (see EDEM 26 September 2012).
Batho also said she intended to push ahead with supportive policies, regardless of the EU's pending decision on the status of the current feed-in tariff for wind power.
The supportive measures for wind power have been attached to the proposed legislation for progressively adding tariffs to consumer prices, which is designed to encourage more efficient use of energy and was initially proposed in October. The senate rejected the proposal the same month, but the national assembly re-examined and approved it last week. The legislation will be submitted for a second hearing in the senate in February.
The proposed measures include getting rid of the obligation to develop wind-power installations in specifically allocated development zones. Wind parks would no longer be required to have at least five wind turbines and development of wind parks in France's overseas regions would be permitted. If passed, the legislation would also resolve obstacles regarding connection to the power grid for offshore facilities.
"We will give companies the stable, lasting and predictable legislative framework they need," the minister said at the senate.
The legislative basis for the feed-in tariff for the wind-power sector was established in 2008 but suffers from a "legal fragility" that concerns industry members, senator Roland Courteau said in questions to the minister.
At present, the feed-in tariff is being evaluated by the European Court of Justice, which will decide whether or not it represents a state subsidy. A state subsidy could be lawful if the European Commission has been notified, which Batho said France's previous government did not do.
According to Courteau, because of the uncertainty regarding the court's decision, banks will not help finance wind-power projects as it is not clear what will happen to the feed-in tariff.
"We don't plan to make the mistake of doing nothing while we wait for the decision," the minister said.
According to France's Grenelle environment law, wind-power capacity should be increased to 19GW by 2020. Capacity now stands at 7.5GW.
Growth in new installations has been slower every year for the past three years. In 2010, 1.3GW in new capacity went on line, in 2011 installed capacity increased by 832MW and, in 2012, only 800MW of new capacity was attached to the grid.
"To reach the target set by the Grenelle law, we would have to add 1.4GW in new installations per year, doubling the current rate of growth," Courteau said. BM
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