January 2012 update

In July 2010, the law “Grenelle 2” has defined in its article 88 a deadline for the grid connection of small installation (< 3 kWp). Following this, it was transposed in May 2011 into the Energy code (art. L342-3).

On the 10th January 2012, the decree n° 2012-38 has finally fixed penalties for exceeding deadline of either grid connection proposal or grid connection, in the case of PV installations < 3 kWp.
Penalties for exceeding the one month period which allows the grid operator to send his grid connection proposal to the PV project developer is set to 30€.
Penalties for exceeding the quarter period following acceptance of the proposal which allows the grid operator to perform the grid connection is set to 50€. At least, penalties will be raised to 50€ for each additional month after the above mentioned period.

December 2011 update

In November 2009, decree n°2009-1414 has already deleted the declaration of operation to DIDEME for PV installations under 250 kW installations.
By the 1st January 2012, decree n°2011-1893 of 14th December 2011 (published in the Official Journal on the 18th December) will modify decree n°2000-877 (8th September 2000) relating to operation authorization of electricity production installation.
Thereby, the authorization (or declaration) procedure will be tacitly recognized for some electricity production installations. This decision will directly concern all PV installation under 12 MW, which will be considered as de facto « authorized ».

This is a new step into administrative simplification, which aims to encourage RES installations development.

July 2011 update

After the government decided, through Decree No. 2010-1510 of 9 December, to suspend, for a period of 3 months, mandatory purchase for any project with a power above 3 kWp, whose technical and financial proposal (TFP) or whose connection proposal (CP) by the grid administrator (ERDF or RTE) has not been accepted by the producer before the 2nd of December. Projects with a power above 3 kWp whose TFP or CP were not accepted by the 1st of December have been returned to the new tariff structure, which was subsequently defined with the Decree dated 4 March, 2011.This decree therefore "cleared" part of the TFP request waiting list. It also defined the commissioning time limits for projects with a TFP/CR accepted as at 1 December.

To benefit from the purchase tariff in force on the connection request date, facilities with a capacity above 3 kWp, which are allowed to continue their development by the Decree, are subject to a commissioning deadline for the installation:

  • Within 18 months of the TFP acceptance date.
  • Within nine months from the publication of the decree if the TFP acceptance date was nine months ago or longer.

If this period is exceeded (except in the case of work on the grid), the purchase tariff will become ineligible. This completion time constraint is a new obstacle for numerous projects. This means that funding has become problematic for these projects, with more financial guarantees being required by banks to cover the potential risk of "loss" of the purchase tariff. In addition, urban planning obligations which apply to large-scale projects because their own deadlines do not generally make it possible to meet the commissioning deadlines introduced by the decree.

Following this decree, the government organized a consultation with PV industry representatives, with six meetings being held between late December 2010 and late February 2011.

The consultation resulted in a report, which was submitted to the Ministers of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transportation and Housing; Economy, Finance and Industry; and Industry, Energy and the Digital Economy. This document was in the form of feedback on the debate, allowing politicians to choose which decisions to make.

The report tackled the following topics:

  • The need to move away from the suspension period in order to put the PV industry back on track for sustainable growth,
  • The ambition to develop a French PV industry which takes into account economic realities and environmental objectives,
  • The new framework for regulation to be implemented and for managing the move away from the suspension period.

Following this consultation, a new framework for mandatory purchase was defined. It came into force on 10 March, 2011 (Decree of 4 March, 2011 establishing the conditions for purchasing electricity produced by facilities using radiant energy from the sun as specified in Paragraph 3, Article 2 of Decree No. 2000-1196 of 6 December 2000; NOR: DEVR1106450A). The main provisions are as follows:

  1. 20-year purchase contract starting from the commissioning date, which must take place 18 months after the full connection request, otherwise the contract will be reduced by three times the extra time;
  2. "Attractive" purchase tariff only for facilities with a power of up to 100 kW (added to the powers of current or completed projects on the same building or cadastral parcel). For facilities in excess of 100 kWp, the purchase tariff was set at €0.12/kWh, but with an additional procedure for calls for projects due to be introduced during 2011, to benefit from a rate in excess of €0.12/kWh;
  3. The purchase tariffs are set according to the building type, integration type, and facility power (added to the power of other current or completed projects in the same building or cadastral parcel);
  4. Depending on the volume of projects with connection requests during a given quarter, and for each segment (residential building integration, non-residential building integration, simplified building integration for any building type), the purchase tariff in the following quarter may be reduced by up to 9.5%,linked to the quarterly DSO obligation to communicate to the government the detailed list of new projects entering in waiting list during each quarter (global amount of project and total power for each segment);
  5. A certificate of financial capacity is mandatory for any project above 9 kWp;
  6. The integration criteria have not really changed from the previous decree (31/08/2010), but they make provision for building facilities where the height of the photovoltaic system plan exceeds the surrounding roofing components plan by no more than 60mm. This limit will change to 20mm from 01/01/12.

This means that the purchase tariff is revised downwards and the eligibility conditions are made more stringent. However, this in no way changes the administrative obstacles which already exist. 

With the new decree of 4 March 2011 the DSO have the obligation to cmmunicated to the government the detailed list of new projects entering in waiting list during each quarter.

December 2010 update

A Decree on December 9th 2010 has suspended all new FIT applications in France for projects larger than 3 kWp. This suspension is for 3 months, period during which the government intends to discuss with the sector’s stakeholders about the future of PV in France for the following years.

July 2010 update

In France the law “Grenelle 2” foresees, in its article 68, a regional development of RES. Each region has to define their own RES plan, in accordance with the EU directive and objectives. These regional schemes for climate, air and energy (SRCAE) have to be co-elaborating between Regions and Prefectures. Targets retain will have to be consistent with national, and de facto European, objectives by 2020 and 2050.

  • Reduction and adaptation to climate change and energy management
  • Air quality
  • Qualitative and quantitative RES production targets consistent with European objectives.

These schemes can include a territorial plan for climate & energy which applies to Regions, Department, town and community of cities (above 50 000 inhabitants). It has to be adopting before 31th December 2012, and update every 5 years.
They can also include a RES grid connection scheme realized by the Transport System Operator.
SRCAE have to be adopting at least before 12th July 2011, but many Regions have not finishing it. An update every 5 years is foreseen.

The same law has also defined a deadline for the grid connection of small installation (< 3 kWp), in its article 88. This deadline is defined as follow: except specific cases which need grid extension or strengthening, the grid connection delay for a RES electricity production, less than 3 kVa, cannot exceed 2 months from the grid connection proposal acceptance. This grid connection proposal has to be send by the DSO to the producer within one month from the grid connection request reception. If those deadlines are not honored, penalties can apply. Penalties list will be defined by a Decree. But since the law publication on the 12th July 2010, no Decree about this has been published.

The publication of this decree has last till January 2012 (see above January 2012 update)

April 2010 update

Since November 2009 an environmental impact assessment and a building permit are required for every PV system above 250 kW. These new administrative procedures are considered an improvement by the French PV sector since they should allow for a better regulated development of ground mounted PV in the country.

Since March 2010 a CONSUEL certification is required for PV installations below 250 kW. The introduction of this new measure has been supported by SER and ENERPLAN, thereby using the knowledge obtained through the PV LEGAL project in order to improve the quality and the security of PV installations in France.

April 2009 update

The French DSO has set up a website which projects under 36 kVa can apply for grid connection online. This website also allows to follow the status of the grid connection process:

An additional change is now facilitating grid connection and operation: some installers, which are certified by the DSO  can carry out the connection work.