Renewables: France set to miss its targets again in 2023

Once again, France will break its promises about renewables. Black sheep of European countries, and having already missed its 2020 and 2021 objectives in this area, once again France shouldn’t achieve its stated ambitions in terms of renewable energies over the 2019-2023’s period, informs us the Annual Overview Barometer of « EurObserv’ER », the Observatory for Renewable Energy, in charge of monitoring the development of these technologies in the European Union. This barometer highlights poor progress, especially in wind and solar power in 2022 in France.

Lagging behind its European neighbours, with only 19.1% of renewable energies reached in 2020, far from the 23% that it should have reached according to a 2009 European directive, France is therefore “the only country to have been condemned to pay 500 million euros for not having fulfilled its European objectives in terms of renewable energies” point out Vincent Jacques Le Seigneur, president of EurObserv’ER, during a press conference.


An out-of-reach goal for onshore wind power

Regarding onshore wind, the official goal of 24.1 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity by the end of 2023 will remain out of reach. France was barely reaching 20 GW at the end of September 2022, according to the barometer. On this type of wind power, “the current progression is not in line with the pace required by the multi-annual energy program” over the period 2019-2023, insists the study which was carried out in partnership with the French National Federation of Communities grantors and authorities (FNCCR) and the French Environment and Energy Agency (ADEME), responsible for ecological transition.


4 gigawatts of additional power in 2023

To reach its objectives for renewable energies’ deployment, France should connect nearly 4 GW of additional power in 2023. This level seems “out of reach for the French sector”, adds the barometer. The sector won’t ever achieve 2 GW of annual additional power, notes the balance sheet. It mentions administrative’s obstacles, constraint due to the lack of land space, or even the acceptability of any new projects by the population as obstacles to the commissioning of these new technical capacities.


About photovoltaic side, despite an increased growth rate since 2021 and a “partially confirmed recovery in 2022 (…), the sector is still not on the right trajectory”, adds the Observatory, which is based, among other things, on data from the French firms Enedis and EDF. In September 2022, France had 15.8 GW of capacity in terms of photovoltaic fields, while it should reach 20.1 GW by the end of 2023. At the current rate, the French national park should only have 19 GW at the end of the year, far from aimed trajectory to reach the target set for 2028 (which was between 35 GW and 44 GW).


“The electricity supply crisis, exacerbated by the conflict in Eastern Europe, has revealed a general awareness of the need for national energy independence”, point out Pascal Sokoloff, general director of FNCCR, for which this new edition of the Observatory demonstrates “yet once again the gap between the stated ambitions, the declarations and the reality on the ground”.

This observation is made when France is still trying to catch up through a bill to speed up administrative’s procedures to facilitate the renewable energies’ deployment. This bill, debated in French Parliament, is however greeted with skepticism by many sector’s members and even deemed disappointing by environmental’s associations.