Patricia Savin October 31 2011 Solar roofs: pinning down the applicable rules Savin Martinet Associés | Environment & Climate Change - France Patricia Savin Environment & Climate Change IntroductionProjects of less than 100kWCommon conditions for projects of more than 100kWProjects between 100kW and 250kWProjects of more than 250kWIndustry reactionIntroductionOn July 20 2011 the Ministries of Ecology and of Industry announced the launch of a new quality label for the photovoltaic industry: 'AQPV – modules'. This label is part of the government's strategy to develop national industry, and the solar roof programme is completely based on this quality approach.The plants on buildings are now divided in three groups according to their peak power: less than 100 kilowatts (kW); large roofs with between 100kW and 250kW; and very large roofs of more than 250kW. Projects of less than 100kWThese projects are subject to a purchase price adjusted quarterly, in compliance with the March 4 2011 order regarding electricity purchase terms, "according to the volume of submitted projects and the expected cost reductions estimated at 10% per year".(1)The rates for the period from July 1 to September 30 2011 result from a deliberation by the Energy Regulation Commission of July 21 2011. The rates vary according to: the plant's peak power; the type of building that holds the plant; and compliance with the criteria of building integration or simplified integration. The rates for small plants in residential buildings range from €0 to €42.55 per kW.Common conditions for projects of more than 100kWFor projects of more than 100kW, the draft specifications developed by the government and subjected to consultation in June 2011 set down the conditions for formal tenders. Only new plants are accepted – namely, those that were not subject to any construction work at the time of filing the application.In addition, applicants must be responsible for land management of the building at the time of filing the application. The roofs must comply with the building simplified integration described in Annex 2 of the March 4 2011 order, which excludes projects superimposed on flat roofs. In addition, they cannot cover parking areas. Once the tender is won, electricity would be paid at a fixed price over the 20-year contract period.Projects between 100kW and 250kWOn July 13 2011 an invitation to tender for the construction of photovoltaic systems of between 100kW and 250kW, for a total capacity of 300 megawatts (MW), was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Pursuant to the announcements made in July 2011 by the Ministry of the Ecology, the project would involve the launch of a first batch of 120MW on August 1 2011, followed by six batches of 30MW launched quarterly.According to the draft specifications of the tender, the instruction of the applications would be conducted by the Energy Regulation Commission according to the computerised accelerated procedure set out in Decree 2011-757, which amended the Decree of December 4 2002 on the formal tender procedure for power generation facilities. Thus, the most economically advantageous offer is chosen.Projects of more than 250kWIn July 2011 the minister of ecology announced that a second category of tenders concerning very large roofs would soon be launched. It will focus on the construction of plants of over 250kW for a total capacity of 400MW.These formal tenders should follow the ordinary procedure pursuant to Decree 2011-757. According to the draft specifications, the rating assigned by the Energy Regulation Commission would depend on a number of criteria with their assigned coefficients: the price offered; the record of preliminary assessment of environmental impacts and industrial risks; the carbon footprint; the feasibility and lead time; and the contribution to research and development. In addition, the list of documents to be submitted by applicants would be very demanding, including an agreement with a platform for innovation and commitments in favour of collaboration with research and development institutions.Industry reactionThe majority of the conditions discussed above have been criticised by industry because of their restrictive nature. The growth of the sector has already been challenged by the moratorium established in late 2010, and it is feared that the formal tender system will consolidate the market around the industrial giants, while the application and instruction deadlines further restrict the rest of the sector. However, it is hoped that the formal tender system will promote the emergence of a genuine photovoltaic industry.The changes are in line with the mandatory development of renewable energy, which will also be subject to local and regional actions within the climate-energy territorial programmes set out in Article L229-26 of the Environmental Code, introduced by the Grenelle II Act and its implementing decree (July 11 2011).For further information on this topic please contact Patricia Savin at Savin Martinet Associés by telephone (+33 1 53 43 22 20), fax (+33 1 53 43 22 21) or email ([email protected]).Endnotes(1) According to a government press release of February 24 2011.