Sort by *
Paris, 25 July 2013
Renewable energy
development policy
France benefits from a lower carbon content energy and cheaper electricity than most other major
industrial powers, thanks in large part to its hydropower and nuclear fleets. As such, it
has set more
ambitious goals than many other European countries
in terms of renewable energy, with a target of
23% gross final consumption of energy from all energy sources combined by 2020, versus 10.3% in
In its report, the Court analyses the conditions for reaching these goals in the heating and electricity
sectors, which represent 59.4% and 40.6% respectively of the use of renewable energies (excluding
Increasing effort to be made
Less promoted for a long time at the European and French levels, heat generation has risen since
2005 and constitutes the leading use of renewable resources, ahead of electricity. Renewable electricity
generation has also picked up since 2005. Hydro power is still predominant, although wind and PV power
are steadily increasing.
In 2011, France very nearly met the target it had set for itself. The proportion of renewable energies
(13.1%) was higher than the average for other European Union countries.
The 23% target set for 2020 will be harder to achieve, however, because more effort will have to be
undertaken between 2012 and 2020 compared to the 2005-2011 period. Additional renewable heat and
electricity generation will have to be six to seven times higher than that already achieved.
An array of challenges
Production costs for most renewable energies
, which vary significantly between sectors and even
within sectors,
are still much too high for their deployment without public support
on the whole, solar energy is exceedingly more expensive than other energy sources and also
entails a wide range of production costs;
land-based wind energy is in an intermediate position, often very close to generating a profit,
and is therefore on the verge of becoming competitive;
production costs for energy generated from biomass, geothermal heat or hydropower are the
lowest overall.
The State has implemented multiple
and often complex financial aid mechanisms
: investment aid,
production purchasing at guaranteed prices, tax measures and funding for research programmes.
It is
inadequately organised
, spreading its efforts too thinly and failing to sufficiently evaluate the socio-
economic impacts of its decisions, particularly in terms of jobs and the trade balance. The
does not facilitate the involvement of local authorities.
In addition, the
social acceptability
of renewable energies, their physical constraints and even
conflicts of use (particularly regarding bodies of water and use of biomass) create problems that are
difficult to overcome.
Long-term sustainable choices are needed
Achievement of the targets set for 2020 and beyond will come at a high cost to the country
and raises questions as to their sustainability.
Total public costs of the renewable energy development policy can be estim
ated at €14.3
bn for
2011, including €3.3
bn for the CSPE (contribution to public electric utilities).
Without undermining the development policy implemented up to now, and taking into account the
CSPE alone, the cost could reach €40.5
bn for 2012-2020, supported directly by electricity consumers
(individuals and professionals alike). Added to this are tax expenditures, other fiscal aid mechanisms to
encourage investment and public funding for research. At the same time, the cost of adapting the
rks has been estimated at €5.5
bn by ERDF and RTE on a 2020 horizon.
The question of sustainability is all the more significant in that expected benefits of the financial aid
granted to the renewable energy sector are simply not there, either in terms of industrial development or
job creation.
In order to maintain France's assets in the energy field while supporting the development of
renewable energies,
choices must be made, to begin with between the sectors to be supported
particularly in terms of the cost of their support relative to their contribution to the energy mix.
efficiency of aid mechanisms
(purchase prices, calls for tenders, investment aid) must also be a key
Furthermore, the long-term sustainability of the policy also requires a realistic valuation of the cost of
emissions, either by market mechanisms or taxation.
The Court has issued eight recommendations:
establish a centralised set-up for statistical monitoring in order to gain the necessary transparency
to inform decision-making, particularly regarding knowledge of production costs by sector, jobs and
simplify the legal framework applicable to the production of renewable energies (geothermal
energy, land-based wind power);
set up a timetable and map out renewable energies, taking into account the constraints associated
with connection to the electricity networks;
give the priority to calls for tenders for technologies that have fallen the furthest behind in achieving
their capacity and installation targets, which do not have purchase prices set by decree, in order to
avoid windfall effects;
organise an efficient control system for installations receiving government aid, particularly in the
solar and biomass sectors;
favor financial support for the most efficient installations (given their cost, their share in energy
production and their job content);
reallocate funds in the
heat fund
to more efficient energy sectors;
revise the principle according to which only electricity consumers are responsible for paying the
cost of supporting renewable energy sources, offset by the CSPE (recommendation already issued
by the Court in 2011).
Read the report
Press contact:
Ted MARX - Head of Communication - Tel: +33 (0)1 42 98 55 62-
Denis GETTLIFFE - Head of Press Relations - Tel +33 (0)1 42 98 55 77 -
Follow the Court of Accounts at @Courdescomptes