* EDF to build on average 2 GW per year over 15 years
* EDF to invest about 25 bln euros in French solar
* In line with government targets on electricity mix
* Solar investment will not impact nuclear investment
(Adds detail on financing, capacity)
By Geert De Clercq
PARIS, Dec 11 (Reuters) - French state-owned utility EDF
announced on Monday plans for a big push into solar
energy in France that is likely to cost around 25 billion euros
as the government tries to meet its climate goals.
Speaking a day before Paris hosts a climate summit, the
company's CEO said EDF aimed to build 30 gigawatt (GW) of solar
capacity from 2020 to 2035 and that the investment would be
mainly funded by equity partners, project financing and loans.
"EDF's solar plan is in line with the government target of
rebalancing the French electricity generation mix thanks to the
massive deployment of renewables," Jean-Bernard Levy told
France wants to reduce the share of nuclear in power
generation from 75 percent today to 50 percent by around 2035
and wants to massively boost renewables investment.
Levy said that given strong opposition against wind turbine
construction, solar was virtually the only option for boosting
EDF - which had just 0.2 GW of solar capacity in France at
the end of 2016 - will build on average 2 GW of solar capacity
per year for 15 years, starting with 1.5 GW per year in
2020-2025, then 2 GW/year in 2026-30 and 2.5 GW/year in 2031-35.
"We are not number one in solar today in France, but we want
to build up a leadership position," he said.
Levy said EDF would work with the government to free up land
for solar. As one megawatt of solar requires about one hectare -
and costs about 1 million euros - EDF estimates the area needed
for 30 GW at about 25,000-30,000 hectares. That corresponds to
nearly three times the surface of Paris.
EDF will use industrial wasteland and decommissioned power
plants as well as floating solar panels on the lakes behind its
hydro power dams.
It will count on the French state to issue sufficient
tenders for solar capacity in order to catch up with
Environment minister Nicolas Hulot said in a statement that
France would boost the annual solar tender volume by one
gigawatt to 2.5 GW per year, without saying how long this would
In France, where nuclear accounts for 75 percent of power
generation, the share of solar is just 1.6 percent, compared to
2.5 percent in Britain, 6.2 percent in Germany and 7.8 percent
Levy said the solar investments would not impact the 50
billion euro budget set aside for EDF's "grand carenage" upgrade
to its fleet of 58 nuclear reactors, which have a combined
capacity of 63 gigawatt.
EDF is also continuing studies for the construction of new
nuclear plants in France and is working on an optimised version
of its Areva-designed EPR nuclear reactor.
"The government can count on us to be a major player in the
energy transition, which means a power generation mix with less
nuclear and more renewables," Levy said.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Brian Love and Gareth
First Published: 2017-12-11 14:00:13
Updated 2017-12-11 19:08:32
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