The French government has received European approval to move ahead with an investment scheme for wind and solar power. File photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 29 (UPI) -- The French government has bloc-level support for developing more renewable energy as it makes its way to 2020 benchmarks, the European Commission said Friday.
The European Commission said four schemes for French renewables won't violate state aid rules and will support environmental objectives for European Union member states in a way that won't distort competition.
"The support schemes for medium and large-scale solar and for onshore wind power will help France in its transition to a low carbon, environmentally sustainable energy supply," Margrethe Vestager, the European commission responsible for competition policy, said in a statement.
The wind energy program envisions a provisional budget of $4.4 billion spread out over 20 years. Two solar energy schemes have a provisional budget for the period of $5.4 billion, or around $274 million per year. Those beneficiaries receiving the assistance will be chosen through tenders over the next three years.
By the commission's estimates, the programs will help France develop an additional 7 gigawatts of renewable energy and help the country meet its goal of getting 23 percent of its energy needs met by green resources by 2020.
France has one of the least carbonized electricity sectors among members of the EU and most of its renewable power comes from hydroelectric resources.
Nicolas Hulot, the state minister for the environment, introduced a measure this month that would end exploration for conventional and non-conventional resources like shale oil and natural gas. The measure would phase out oil and gas operations by 2040. The government earlier this year echoed London when it said it would work toward a benchmark of banning the sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles beginning in 2040.
For energy companies, French supermajor Total said last week it made a $284.7 million investment to take an indirect 23 percent stake in renewable power company EREN RE. EREN RE has a presence in markets in Africa, the Asia-Pacific and Latin America and set of goal of having 3 gigawatts of renewable energy installed by 2023, more than triple its current capacity.