Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "Our future will be powered by renewable energy. The French initiative the Commission is approving today will encourage investment in innovative solar installations. It will contribute to France's transition to low carbon, environmentally sustainable energy supply, in line with the EU environmental objectives and our state aid rules."
The measure is designed to encourage the production of renewable electricity from innovative solar installations in France.
The scheme has an indicative budget of €600 million and is financed from the French State budget. It will support the deployment of 350 megawatts of additional generation capacity.
The support is available for innovative solar installations (at ground level or on buildings), with a capacity between 100 kilowatts and 5 megawatts. The beneficiaries will be selected through tenders organised until 2019.
The selected installations will receive support in the form of a feed-in tariff (i.e., a guaranteed price) or of a premium on top of the market price (so-called "complément de rémunération") for a period of 20 years.
The Commission assessed the scheme under EU State aid rules, in particular the Commission's 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy. The Commission found that the French scheme will encourage the development of innovative solar renewable energies and avoid overcompensation for the beneficiaries of the public support, in line with the requirements of the Guidelines.
On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure will help France boost the share of electricity produced from renewable energy sources to meet its climate targets, in line with the environmental objectives of the EU, without unduly distorting competition.
The Commission's 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy(see full text here), allow Member States to support the production of electricity from renewable energy sources, subject to certain conditions. These rules are aimed at meeting the EU's ambitious energy and climate targets at the least possible cost for taxpayers and without undue distortions of competition in the Single Market. The Renewable Energy Directive established targets for all Member States' shares of renewable energy sources in gross final energy consumption by 2020. For France that target is 23% by 2020. The scheme aims to contribute to reaching that target.
More information on today's decision will be available, once potential confidentiality issues have been resolved, in the State aid register on the Commission's competition website under the case number SA.48642. The State Aid Weekly e-News lists new publications of State aid decisions on the internet and in the EU Official Journal.