- French Senate has approved the 1st reading of a bill that recommends making solar panels mandatory for car parks in the country
- It can promote the development of as much as 11 GW of solar PV capacity alone
- The new ruling may come into effect from July 1, 2023; Non-compliance can invite penalty
France estimates as much as 11 GW of solar PV capacity, equivalent to the capacity of 10 nuclear reactors, to come up in the country by equipping parking lots with solar panels, a mandate that’s likely to come into force here from July 1, 2023.
According to a news report by Public Senat, this is part of the 1st reading of a bill to accelerate development of renewable energies in the country, that was approved by the French Senate on November 4, 2022.
The idea is to have solar panels installed for existing as well as new car parks with a capacity to hold at least 80 vehicles. Car parks with space for 80 to 400 vehicles will need to comply within 5 years, while those with more than 400 capacity will need to come on board within 3 years of the ruling becoming effective.
Mostly, the target is large parking lots around commercial business centers, highways and major routes. For non-compliance, there may be a maximum penalty of €10,000 annually till the site complies.
However, the mandate will not be applicable to parking lots for heavy goods vehicles and even for areas under protected areas, as well as for the ones that have at least half of their area covered by shade from trees.
In this case, France seems to be taking a cue from its neighbor Switzerland that wants solar PV installations along its national roads (see Switzerland Launches Call For Solar Along National Roads).
Among other measures discussed by the French Senate, it approved making rooftop solar panels mandatory on at least 50% of new non-residential constructions instead of 30% initially, and also offer zero interest loans to individuals carrying out renovation work to install solar panels. It also decided in favor of income tax exemption for profits made by individuals for self-consumption of power generated through solar energy.
Welcoming the development, French renewable energy association Syndicat des energies renouvelables (SER) said there are several positive provisions introduced by the Senate to facilitate the deployment of renewable energies in the country, but further discussions are to be discussed before these come into operation.
“Through this vote, the Senate shows that renewable energies are at the heart of a real national consensus. The very large majority of senators who spoke shows that no one can now deny the place that renewable energies must take in our energy mix to ensure our security of supply and allow us to achieve carbon neutrality,” said SER President Jules Nyssen.
The solar initiative comes at a time, France is suffering from high electric prices due to the failure of a large part of its nuclear power park, on which it heavily relies for power production. The demise of French nuclear is the other reason for the EU’s energy crises next to the gas shortage due to Russia’s invasion in the Ukraine.
France has a target of 100 GW solar power capacity by 2050, which is very unambitious in comparison to its neighbor Germany, for example, which is targeting 215 GW but already 20 years earlier, by 2030. (see France Announces 100 GW Solar Target).