Nothing works between the State and solar professionals. The government has just sent them a letter specifying the amount of reductions in electricity feed-in tariffs for the oldest photovoltaic plants. This concerns 700 parks, built before 2011, which should register a reduction of half of the subsidies granted at the time for a period of twenty years.
An exorbitant cost for the public authorities
The objective is to make budgetary savings of the order of 300 to 400 million euros per year. The 235,000 first-generation photovoltaic parks, which saw the light of day before 2010, represent less than 5% of solar production and 0.7% of total electricity production, but cost a small fortune to public finances. In all, ” 2 billion euros per year until 2030, ie 38.4 billion euros cumulatively “, recalled a report from the Court of Auditors of 2018. The equivalent of three EPR.
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The objective at the time was to support the development of the sector, by granting generous feed-in tariffs, which could go up to € 600 per megawatt / hour. Ten times more than today’s rates.
The government says it is ready to negotiate
This revision of the signed contracts was voted in December as part of the finance law for 2021, after a favorable opinion from the Council of State. At the time, it had aroused the anger of the sector. It has not fallen back, quite the contrary.
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In a press release, published Wednesday, June 3, the Enerplan union evokes its “Stupor and incomprehension” in front of “The unjustified scale of the tariff reduction” and warns against a “Proven risk of cascading bankruptcies for companies whose historic power stations will find themselves in an insoluble financial equation ».
For its part, the Ministry of Ecological Transition denies striking blindly and claims to have put in place several safeguards. The terms for lowering feed-in tariffs stipulate that the operators concerned will continue to benefit from a ” reasonable compensation ».
Everything would not be frozen either. “ We are opening a fifteen-day consultation period with the industry and the calculation method may change », Specifies an adviser. Producers could also operate a ” safeguard clause If the measure called into question their sustainability.
Professionals regret a questioning of the word given
The government explains that it is not a question of putting the brakes on renewable energies and recalls the 120 billion euros of investments planned in this sector by 2040. It is just, according to him, to better distribute the money by eliminating the annuity phenomena for certain operators. One of the first players affected by the new provision is also EDF.
But professionals see it as a questioning of the word given (a commitment from the State over 20 years) which could in the future dampen the eagerness of some investors to engage in new projects. ” This will create a climate of suspicion in the renewables sector for years to come. », Underlines one operator, recalling the current difficulties encountered in the installation of new wind turbines.
Discussions on the activation of the safeguard clause, placed under the aegis of the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE), are likely to be long and complicated, and legal remedies cannot be ruled out.