France is the frontrunner in Europe in terms of implementing political frame conditions for solar thermal technology. The government already approved the country's energy law, the so-called “Grenelle de l’Environnement“, in 2007. Richard Loyen, Secretary General of the French Solar Energy Association Enerplan, explained that the law, “more or less anticipated the implementation of the RES Directive” when he spoke during an association workshop organized by the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) in Brussels last December.
The official governmental targets for solar thermal technology set forth in the Grenelle Environnement aim at installing 2.9 million m2 of collector area (2 GWth) per year by 2020, which would correspond to an overall figure of 22 million m2 collector area (equals 14.8 GWth) in operation. The secondary target speaks of 1 million m2 per year by 2010. Unfortunately, France is far behind its initial goals, considering only around 400,000 m2 (oversea departmens included) of newly installed collector area were set up in 2009.
Therefore, the government, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency Ademe and the various associations all try to reinforce their efforts in reaching the national targets for solar thermal technology:
- At the beginning of 2009, Ademe started a support scheme called “Heat Fund” (Fonds Chaleur), to provide for more large-scale solar thermal systems in older buildings, hotels, campsites, hospitals and military barracks. 70 to 80 % of the preparatory study is subsidized, as well as 70 to 80 % of the investment costs, with the costs being divided between the government and the single regions (The maximum amount will be paid at an annual production of 2.5 EUR/kWh, equalling 1,000 to 1,200 EUR/m2 of installed collector area).
- Enerplan, on the other hand, created “Socol”, an initiative to standardize solar hot water applications in apartment buildings. Since the beginning of 2009, four working groups focused on the following four areas regarding collective solar thermal systems (CSTS): Technical, Financial & Legal, Training and Communication. Among other things, the initiative aims at educating up to 1,000 designers on how to set up collective systems, solving technical & legal problems at a nation-wide level through the proposal of standards and solutions and promoting the heat funds for solar thermal technology.
|Newly installed collector area per year in m²||40,000||70,000||600,000||745,000|
Objectives of the French SoCol initiative for collective solar thermal systems (CSTS)
- Equipped with a budget of EUR 250,000, Enerplan will launch a market campaign on the radio beginning in March 2010, which will be financed by the industry, solar thermal system suppliers and Ademe.
- From 2013 on, newly constructed buildings must possess a heating demand below 50 kWh/m2. It is more than recommended to explore the possibilities of solar thermal technology to help reach this targeted reduction.