the reasons for France’s delay in production and installation

Dense forests, woodlands, suburbs

12.6 – 16.2

16.2 – 18

18 – 21.6

> 21.6

open field

16.2 – 19.8

19.8 – 23.4

23.4 – 27

flat nobility

18 – 21.6

21.6 – 25.2

25.2 – 30.6

> 30.6

lakes, sea

19.8 – 25.2

25.2 – 28.8

28.8 – 32.4

> 32.4

ridges, hills

25.2 – 30.6

30.6 – 36

36 – 41.4

> 41.4

Half of the installed capacity in France is located in the Hauts-de-France (5.4 gigawatts) and in the Grand-Est region (4.3 gigawatts). Occitania completes the podium with 1.6 GW installed, which is not much for a highly favored region in terms of wind.

Lagging behind its European neighbors

Denmark, for its part, has created its first offshore wind farm in 1991, in Vindeby, which was in operation for twenty-five years until it was dismantled due to its age in 2017. The first French wind farm, installed in front of Saint-Nazaire, was awarded in 2011, but its definitive connection did not take place until 2022, eleven years later.

If we compare France with Germany and the United Kingdom – countries geographically close, with a population and area of ​​the same order of magnitude and with comparable wind resources – their backwardness is evident. The British and the Germans have installed more turbines, with which they produced 21% and 23% of their electricity respectively in 2021. Against 7.8% in France.

This delay on the part of wind power in French production is also found on the side of installed power. The British earn 25.7 GW against the Germans’ 63.7 GW in 2021. France still had 18.7 GW by 2021 and 20 GW as of June 30, 2022.

In 2021, only 1.3 gigawatts of power were installed and connected to the French electricity grid, that is, 7% of the total power installed between the 1990s and the year 2021.

Some policy incoherence on wind power

Land or wind, Paris got into it later than its neighbors. The first tender program dates back to 1996 and, in general, France has not been as interested as its neighbors in renewable energies and wind power in particular. In particular, because of the preponderant role of nuclear energy in French energy policy.

Among the main reasons for the French delay we find the lack of political coherence in the field of renewable energies, and in particular wind power. From 2020 – and Emmanuel Macron’s hostile speech to onshore wind energy delivered in Pau -, there are “new news” explains Jérémy Simon, general delegate of the Syndicate of Renewable Energies (SER) in charge of wind energy: “It is the deadline for the issuance of permits. » That is “The prefects, according to local contexts or executive statements, put their foot on the brake”, laments Mr. Simon. Clearly, “only the prefect’s signature is missing” and this creates significant delays even though all clearances have been obtained.

read also Article reserved for our subscribers Emmanuel Macron wants to stop the rise of onshore wind energy

The structuring of the sector is all the more difficult as the political discourse is constantly changing. In fact, Macron had spent the first years of his first term a “accelerating investments in renewable energy” and promised “twice the capacity of French wind power”. And if the current President of the Republic is the example the latest on the subjectThis political inconstancy about renewables was also shared by François Hollande Y Nicholas Sarkozy.

The regulatory aspect also plays an important role, explains Aurore-Emmanuelle Rubio, because for “to carry out a sector, we need simple and clear regulations”. However, according to the specialist lawyer in the energy sector, “there has been a lack of planning and coordination in the projects so far” and even some “red ribbon” that contributed to this lack of stability. The French sector has suffered a “changing regulations”.

Thus, until 2014 -the date of its suppression- there were areas identified for the development of wind energy, the ZDEs, which turned out to be an important source of litigation, thus promoting legal insecurity for wind projects.

Finally, there is the issue of local acceptability, “on which France has perhaps not worked hard enough”believe meme blond. However, there are several solutions for this. Germany has, for example, associate the municipalities to wind projects, which allows them to collect taxes; this is also one of the ways of the law that must be presented in France at the end of September.

local opposition

There are several types of local opposition to wind power, ranging from “sincere people, who to achieve their goals use a form of legal harassment” to the opponents, “who find wind power ugly or useless and spoils the landscape”, details Jérémy Simon, from SER. this through “opponents more on the downward movement and on the extreme left, who believe that wind turbines are a poor solution to a real energy problem” Where “Former nuclear executives who do not want their country to move towards a complementary carbon-free energy mix”.

In fact, if wind farm projects are rarely canceled by the courts, they are systematically or almost systematically challenged before the administrative courts, among others by the Sustainable Environment Federation (FED), the main French association against wind energy.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Behind the opposition to wind turbines, an influential and pronuclear galaxy

These opponents of wind energy are sometimes joined by politicians or national personalities, such as Stephane Bernwho “try to save heritage with the French”. Politicians include Marine Le Pen, who proposed during the 2022 presidential campaign dismantle existing wind turbines.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers “Wind energy has become, in a few years, a solid ideological marker between the right (against) and the left (in favor)”

mass litigation

Since the start of the French onshore wind energy sector in the 2000s, the main obstacle “these are disputes”, explains the deputy general delegate of the SER. Precisely “Seven out of ten onshore wind projects are subject to appeal” in court, when finally “only one or two [projets] are effectively annulled by the courts.”Jeremy Simon believes.

But with three levels of administrative justice (administrative courts, administrative appeal courts, Council of State), it takes five to seven years to complete an onshore wind project in France (compared to three to four in Germany) and eleven years to the only project. at sea carried out (compared to five to six years across the Rhine).

France is also lagging behind in photovoltaics, as France has reached 15.2 GW of installed capacity -and only supplied 3.8% of electricity in the first half of 2021-, while the multi-annual Energy program foresees a target of 20.1 GW by the end of 2023.

This article was originally published on September 7, 2022.

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