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France Plans 300 MW of New Solar Capacity to Replace 40-Year-Old Nuclear Plant

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France has received European Commission approval for a €250-million plan to replace the 40-year-old Fessenheim nuclear generating station by contracting for 300 megawatts of new photovoltaic solar capacity.

France announced the subsidized tendering scheme last April and unveiled details in July, PV Magazine reports. “According to that announcement, 200 MW of the tendered capacity will be for ground-mounted PV ranging in size from 500 kilowatts up to 30 MW, with the remaining 100 MW accounted for by rooftop projects larger than 8 MW in scale.”

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Last week, the European Commission concluded that the premium feed-in tariff built into the plan was consistent with its regulations on state aid. “The aid will be granted by the French state and will contribute to the French and European objectives of energy efficiency and energy production from renewable sources, in line with the EU’s environmental objectives, with [the] possible distortions of competition state support being reduced to a minimum,” the EC said.

The plan envisions tariff premiums of €50 to €70 per megawatt-hour for ground-mounted solar, €70 to  €100/MWh for larger rooftop projects, and €80 to €110/MWh for smaller rooftops.

“The 40-year-old Fessenheim nuclear site, in the Haut-Rhin department of Alsace in northeastern France, is set to be decommissioned by next year,” PV Mag notes. “The plant has seen more than one temporary shutdown due to safety issues. One of the most high-profile issues occurred in April 2014, when Reactor 1 was shuttered. The French Nuclear Safety Authority reported at the time that internal flooding in the non-nuclear part of the reactor had damaged safety electrical systems. After being repaired, the reactor was reconnected to the grid in May the same year.”