• Energy Storage
  • Solar Plus Storage
  • Renewables
  • ESS

Energy Storage Update: France

Jan 23, 2019

Solar 10

Mainland France has relied on about 58 nuclear plants and pumped hydro storage to supply about 80% of its power over the past several decades. Despite this, France has been a leader in technology innovation on the energy storage front. Notably, developers Neoen and Nidec ASI recently began building a 6 MW/6 MWh energy storage system (ESS) in the Azur municipality. As the largest system in mainland France, this system will provide frequency regulation services to the grid. Neoen is also building a 9 MWp solar plant near the ESS to take advantage of the added benefits large scale solar plus storage installations provide.

What Is France Planning?

French utilities have been gearing up since early 2018 to prepare their service territories for the impending renewables push. For example, EDF’s goal of 100% carbon free power by 2050 comes with an intermediate goal of an added 10 GW of energy storage by 2035 (including electromechanical and electrochemical technologies). ENGIE, who has more than 11 million customers across France, partnered with energy storage provider sonnen in 2018 to bolster their residential storage efforts. According to a study conducted by ENGIE, two-thirds of their customers would prefer the flexibility residential solar plus storage systems provide. Utility giants like Enel, E.ON, and Total have similar renewables plus storage goals across several countries in the European Union and beyond.

What Is France Learning About Energy Storage from Its Island Territories?

France sees its island nations as its most promising locations for new ESSs. Guidehouse Research’s Energy Storage Tracker estimates that ESS projects total approximately 219.45 MW across all French island territories. Two main drivers give rise to the need for storage in these locations:

  • Fossil fuel displacement: Several islands import as much as 85% of their energy needs from coal sourced from other countries. Plans to switch to renewable resources like solar and wind can lower expenses to end users in the long run.
  • French protectionist industrial polices: Gives French-native storage companies easy access to offshore test beds with no competition from outside companies.

Corsica, Martinique, Guadalupe, La Reunion, and French Guyana announced a collective 153.25 MW of new projects announced in early 2018 according to the Guidehouse Insights Tracker. These systems will be used to support new solar projects in the country’s pipeline. One of the most innovative solar projects France has built to date is the O’MEGA 1 PV Project, Europe’s largest floating solar plant.

Will France Lead the Distributed Renewable Wave?

The price of electricity in France has been lower than other countries in Western Europe like Germany (largely because of nuclear power resources), and introducing renewables and storage has historically been an expensive alternative. But as prices for solar and storage have continued to decrease over the years, Guidehouse Insights expects France will be one of the most attractive markets for distributed resources going forward because of its progressive utilities, innovative companies, and governmental support for clean power.