– Ambitious goals

France, which has long relied on the power of its nuclear fleet, generated a quarter of its electricity in 2021 with renewables, a lower share than elsewhere in Europe. But to the climate emergency, the war in Ukraine is now adding the threat of a “blackout”, making it necessary for the government to change scale.

For 2050, President Emmanuel Macron has set himself the objectives of multiplying by ten the production capacity of solar energy to exceed 100 GW and to deploy 50 wind farms at sea to reach 40 GW.

– Emergency or permanent measures

It takes on average in France 5 years of procedures to build a solar farm, 7 years for a wind farm and 10 years for an offshore wind farm.

The text provides for temporary adaptations of administrative procedures to simplify and speed up the implementation of projects, the objective being to significantly shorten deployment times.

The senators have rewritten this section by creating new temporary derogations and proposing permanent changes to the environmental assessment, public participation and administrative litigation regimes, to speed up the implementation of projects.

– Planning and “assent” of mayors

The Senate adopted in the hemicycle a compromise built with the government which replaces a right of controversial “veto” on this or that project, as voted in committee. The municipalities will be able to trace – in a “bottom-up” planning system – the areas likely to receive renewable energy projects. For the phase of application of these “priority” or “conducive” zones, an assent from the mayor will be required. The mayors will thus have the last word.

The Senate also introduced, against the government’s advice, an assent from the French Building Architect for any wind project located less than 10 km from a historic monument.

– More space for solar

– The bill facilitates the installation of photovoltaic panels near highways and major roads. It makes it possible to derogate from the Coastal Law, within a very constrained framework, for the installation of panels on “degraded sites”, a concept preferred by the senators to that of “wastelands”, less wide, proposed by the government. It also facilitates setting up in mountain communities.

– The bill imposed the progressive equipment of outdoor car parks of more than 2,500 m2 with photovoltaic shades and vegetation. The senators reviewed the government’s copy, substituting the concept of parking spaces for that of area. Outdoor car parks with more than 80 spaces will have to be equipped either with solar shades or with another method of producing renewable energy.

– The senators have injected provisions in favor of the “reasoned” development of agrivoltaism, combining agricultural exploitation and electricity production.

– The wind takes to the sea

The bill proposes to pool public debates on the location of offshore wind farm projects “to improve spatial planning” and accelerate their development.

The Senate evacuated in session the provision adopted in committee providing for favoring settlement areas located at a minimum distance of 40 km from the shore.

Will however be “targeted in priority favorable areas located in the exclusive economic zone”, i.e. a little more than 22 km from the coast.

– Rebates

The bill establishes a system of “territorial sharing of the value of renewable energies” in order to facilitate their acceptability.

The senators have refocused the device on the only communities. The discounts on the invoices would concern the municipalities of establishment but also the municipalities from which these installations are visible. The system would apply to all renewable energy installations.