France aims to double its renewable capacity by 2035

Government targets 140 to 175 gigawatts of installed wind, solar and hydropower production capacity in 12 years

Wind turbines in Magny, central France, where the government is focusing on boosting its renewable capacity. AFP
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France aims to more than double its renewable power capacity by 2035, bringing unprecedented amounts of solar and wind power online to become carbon neutral by 2050.

The government is targeting 140 to 175 gigawatts of installed wind, solar and hydropower production capacity in 12 years, up from 63.5 gigawatts last year, according to a presentation on Tuesday. Targets for increased use of biogas, renewable and synthetic fuels, hydrogen and carbon capture were also set.

The ambitious goals, underpinned by plans for a flurry of auctions for the installation of new generation capacity, underscore the scale of the task if France is to achieve its climate goals. The need to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels has also become more pressing since oil and gas prices soared after Russia attacked Ukraine.

Renewable energy accounted for 21 per cent of French consumption last year and the aim is to double that by the end of the decade to comply with European Union targets. The transition will require tens of billions of euros of extra public and private investments each year, and actions to boost local acceptance of things such as wind turbines and solar farms.

To achieve its goals, the French government has adopted controversial legislation aimed at accelerating renewable investment. It’s also providing incentives to facilitate the construction of new manufacturing facilities for everything from electric-car batteries to solar panels and heat pumps.

France plans to award at least 5 gigawatts per year of so-called contracts for difference to help develop photovoltaic projects, and to auction at least 1.5 gigawatts of these CFDs for onshore wind annually, the government document showed. The country’s solar capacity could reach as much as 100 gigawatts in 2035, 15 years earlier than envisaged by President Emmanuel Macron before his reelection last year.

The government will also hold a tender for 8 to 10 gigawatts of offshore wind projects in 2025, with the aim to reach 18 gigawatts of installed capacity in 2035.

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France is also strengthening support for biomethane – aiming for 15 per cent of supply in its gas network in 2030 – and will support the production of liquid biofuels and synthetic fuels. It is increasing subsidies for heat made with renewable sources such as wood, heat pumps and geothermal energy.

Production of so-called renewable and recoverable heat should rise to as much as 419 terawatt-hours in 2035 from 183 terawatt-hours in 2023, according to the government.

The government reiterated its goal of having 6.5 gigawatts of electrolysers in 2030, rising to 10 gigawatts in 2035, to produce low-carbon hydrogen. France is also preparing a tender to develop carbon capture projects as part of its plan to help large manufacturers reduce their emissions.

The government will seek to quadruple public charging points for electric cars by 2030 and is raising subsidies for home and building renovations.

Updated: October 15, 2023, 3:30 AM