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France plans to accelerate wind power projects

Power News - Published on Fri, 19 Jan 2018

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Reuters reported that France is expected to announce measures this week to accelerate the installation of wind turbines and overcome long-running opposition from activists who have frustrated the country's attempts to hit renewable energy targets.

An industry official said that a working group formed in October to make approvals easier has finalised plans that include removing one legal avenue for blocking projects and paying a portion of wind farm taxes directly to affected communities.

French onshore wind projects delivering 22 gigawatts (GW) have been authorised, but only 12.9 GW has been installed because of legal challenges, according to official data, leaving France struggling to meet its target of producing 26 GW by 2023.

Industry officials said that it can take over a decade to get French wind farm projects up and running because of systematic legal objections by opponents whereas in Germany, Europe's biggest wind power producer, it can be as short as three years.

Marion Lettry, deputy head of the French renewable energy lobby SER and part of the working group, said Administrative Tribunals were set to be removed from the legal options open to those campaigning against wind farms in France.

She told Reuters that "This will not automatically reduce systematic appeals against projects, but will hopefully accelerate the process and thereby cut by at least two years off the time it takes for projects to be connected to the grid.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Ecology declined to comment on specific measures, saying the conclusions would be announced on Thursday. The government has said previously it would adopt the working group's proposals as soon as possible.

France had been hoping growth in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydro power would reduce its dependence on nuclear energy to 50 percent of its electricity needs by 2025 from more than 75 percent now.

But the government postponed that deadline in November after grid operator RTE warned that without a massive increase in renewables the country risked power shortages.

Almost all the wind turbines in France have been installed by companies from other European countries, according to data from industry lobby group France Energie Eolienne.

Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems has installed the most followed by German companies Enercon, Senvion and Nordex and then German-Spanish firm Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy.

The origin of the countrywide campaign against French wind farms dates back to 2004 when retired physicist Jean-Louis Butre attended a public hearing on a planned project near his house in the Poitou region of western France.

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Posted By : Nanda Koijam on Fri, 19 Jan 2018
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