Photovoltaic in: France – an overiew

Country: FranceFrance PV Solar Milk the Sun
Area: 668,763 km²
Population: 65.4 Million
Language: French
Government: Republic
Electricity Consumption: 425. 655 GWh/Year
Electricity Export: 56.570 GWh/year
Percentage Renewable Energy: 13.3%
Percentage Photovoltaic: 1%
Installed Photovoltaic Output: 3.6 GW
Solar Irradiation: 900kWh/m² bis 1,600 kWh/m²

Solar in France PV©Gyula Gyukli

Electricity and PV in France

France is known in Germany as „Atomland” (over 75% Nuclear powered). Although at 13.3% they are similar to Italy in their percentage of electricity sourced from renewables, in light of their high export of energy (above all nuclear), these numbers are relative. Photovoltaic is still skeptically received in France by industry and policy makers alike, the effects of which are seen in the low quantity of installed PV at around 3.6 GW. Just recently, the country approved construction of several additional nuclear plants, and when it comes to renewable energy there is a clear preference for hydroelectric. Photovoltaic comprises less than 1% of the total energy consumption, divided between more than 258,800 plants.

Policy and Feed-in Tariffs

French legislation regarding solar plants began with the first administrative regulation in July 2006 („Arrêté du 10 juillet 2006“). A peculiarity of the French regulation is that compensation varies depending not only on the type of plant, but also on its geographic location. Especially high tariffs are in place for overseas “Départments“ and Corsica.

With the “Arrêté du 12 janvier 2010“, the second administrative regulation in January 2010, France has aligned itself with the EU directive requiring that at least 20% of energy consumption be provided from alternative energy sources by the year 2020. The compensation clauses were modified, and since this last “Arrêté” rooftop installations in France can receive up to 0.58 €/kWh, the highest tariff for rooftop PV worldwide. At a minimum building and roof installations will make 0.42 €/kWh.

Grid Parity in France

Grid parity has still not been achieved in France. Current prognoses predict parity by 2020.


Should the 20% renewable energy mark not be achieved by 2020, France will fall under the jurisdiction of hefty EU sanctions. Likely in response to this, the current president François Hollande seems to be taking steps to separate his party from nuclear energy in general.

If and to what degree photovoltaic is a factor here is still unknown. At any rate, the high feed-in tariffs for PV in France are attractive for international, as well as local, investors. Potential changes to these tariffs are currently in debate, with arguments being made for increases as well as decreases.