European Commission endorses French plan to build 60 MW of hydropower

The European Commission has endorsed a French scheme to develop 60 MW of additional hydropower capacity.

The hydropower scheme has a provisional budget of €25 million (US$26.6 million) annually or a total of €500 million (US$532.5 million) over 20 years. This measure will help France achieve its 2020 target of producing 23% of its energy needs from renewable sources, EC says.

Beneficiaries of the hydropower support scheme will be selected through a tender. Plants with a capacity of less than 500 kW may receive a feed-in tariff, while bigger installations will receive their support in the form of a top-up payment or “feed-in premium,” which will fluctuate depending on the market price for electricity.

At the same time as EC endorsed this scheme, it endorsed two others to support solar generators in France, which would add about 2,600 MW of additional solar capacity at a total budget of €8.8 billion (US$9.4 billion) over 20 years.

EC says it assessed all three schemes under EU state aid rules, which ensure that the use of public funds is limited and there is no overcompensation.

“These French initiatives will stimulate a greater use of renewable energy sources and provide legal certainty to the sector, while limiting the use of state support to the minimum,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. “This is a very important balance for Europe in the pursuit of our environmental objectives.”

The Renewable Energy Directive, which went into effect in 2009, established targets for all member states’ shares of renewable energy sources by 2020.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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