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Solar News

France Wants Solar-But Keep It Beautiful S’il Vous Plaît


The growth of solar continues to be driven by economic incentives. Most of these incentives are based on capacity or output or price, but here is a new one from France, aesthetics. France's answer to those who may deride the aesthetics of solar photovoltaic systems is to provide additional incentives for solar shingles or building-integrated photovoltaics installations. France's Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea released this press release. Solar Energy Magazine summarizes the changes to the feed-in tariffs laws in France:

Under the new rules, certain building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) installations that integrate components in a visually appealing manner will receive a rate of 0.58 euros/kWh, which is the highest in the world, the Energy Ministry notes. However, the tariff for these types of installations at industrial, commercial and agricultural sites will be 0.50 euros/kWh. Simpler, non-fully-integrated BIPV installations will receive 0.42 euros/kWh.

The French seem to be saying, give us our solar, but keep it beautiful.

The Germans remain the world leader in solar energy, but it is slowly curbing the rates on its feed-in tarrifs.  According to Reuters,

Germany is a world leader in green energy with a 15 percent share of all electricity produced and wants to double that to 30 percent by 2020. Germany's photovoltaic industry has boomed since the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) was created in 2000. More than half the world's solar power is produced there and some 80,000 jobs have been created. Utilities are obliged to pay 39 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity produced for 20 years for systems installed in 2010, which is down from 43 cents for systems installed in 2009. The feed-in tariff has been falling by about 8 percent per year before dropping 10 percent in 2010.

In Germany,  the government, photovoltaic companies and consumer lobby groups  will likely agree on reducing the feed-in tariff to coorespond with an overall reduction in costs. According to the Reuters report:

Although no decision was reached at the meeting, officials at the two rounds of hearings at the Environment Ministry in Berlin said they expected a decision on moderate reductions in the feed-in tariffs to be made soon.

In Europe, the feed-in tariffs remain the most potent incentive to solar energy, while in the United States, the credits and rebates remain the incentive of choice.