France’s renewable energy sector says a far-right victory threatens trouble for the industry

The Supervisory Board has committed to ending subsidies for renewable energy sources and wants to stop the development of wind energy, including the demolition of already installed turbines. According to its website, the party would instead invest in nuclear, hydro and hydrogen energy.

“It is clear that a parliament dominated by the Supervisory Board would facilitate the implementation of regulations that would at least slow down the development of renewable energy projects,” said a spokesman for Velocita Energies, a unit of the Chinese company Envision Energy, which operates wind farms in France.

Shares of Engie, France’s largest wind farm operator, fell 6.1% since Monday, losing 2.1 billion in market value.

France lags behind its neighbors in renewable energy with around 45 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar capacity installed, and is also lagging behind targets set by the European Commission. In 2023, approximately 65% ​​of its energy supply came from nuclear energy.

However, on Thursday the government was to introduce regulations specifying plans for the rapid expansion of photovoltaic and wind farms, and formal consultations are scheduled to begin on June 27.

The plans envisaged doubling the annual rate of development of photovoltaic installations to 75-100 GW in 2035, with 40-45 GW of onshore wind capacity and 18 GW of offshore wind capacity planned for the same period.

The legislation, already delayed by almost a year, will now be shelved ahead of elections starting June 30.

The RN is unlikely to dismantle existing wind turbines due to the threat of legal action, but permitting could be halted if the RN retains power, said an executive at a European company with wind farms in the country, who declined to be named.

Government support for solar panels was expected to cost around €590 million in 2024. However, according to an assessment by the French Energy Regulatory Commission, onshore wind energy will generate almost €3 billion for the state.

A slower rollout of renewables could also impact France’s ability to meet its energy needs over the next 15 years before it builds new nuclear reactors, added Rana Adib, executive director of renewable energy lobby group REN21.

“France must contribute to the European energy system by developing, alongside nuclear energy, renewable energy sources, which have demonstrated their strengths and competitiveness and will be essential, given the costs and timing of the deployment of new nuclear energy,” Engie said in a statement.

(Reporting by Forrest Crellin and Benjamin Mallet in Paris; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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