47 solar-with-battery projects of 57MW capacity will power France’s island territories
Solar energy prices have dropped in France’s island territories once again. According to results of the third annual tender for renewable energy projects (in French areas not connected to the country’s main grid network), a total of 57MW of solar-plus-storage projects were awarded, with each MWp of solar to be coupled with at least 0.5MW / 0.5MWh of battery storage.
The French Ministry for Ecological Transformation revealed the latest results for a tender round conducted in 2019. 47 projects have been chosen for long-term power purchase agreements for an average tariff of €98.6/MWh, guaranteed by the government. This is the first time that tariffs have fallen below €100/MWh. Gradual developments in battery storage research and development and a general trend of falling solar and energy storage prices across the world have contributed to lowering costs of solar-energy-with-battery projects.
Supporting solar projects with battery storage enables a smoother generation of energy. Peaks and lows throughout the day and night can be optimised and requirements signalled by forecasts to grid operators can be met efficiently. Since regular annual auctions in 2016, solar energy manufacturers working in territories such as Guadeloupe, Corsica, Martinique and French Guyana have secured contracts for around 50MW each year. Energy consultants reckon that approximately 0.75MW / 1.5MWh of battery storage is installed per MWp of solar.
Clean Horizon, an energy consultancy has been studying the development of France’s energy storage market. Analyst Corentin Baschet noted that France’s island territories have a much higher rate of renewable penetration. The prohibitive costs of importing and transporting fossil fuels led the French government to develop the renewable energy market for its islands much earlier than the mainland. The use of battery storage has acquired renewed importance in the islands’ energy market because authorities are reluctant to push for grid expansion in an already saturated framework. In New Caledonia, for example, renewable penetration reached 22% in 2018 itself. This year, the island is expected to be entirely powered by renewable energy thanks to a proliferation of solar-energy-with-battery projects.