August 20, 2015 / 3:58 PM / 5 years ago

France doubles size of solar tender after strong bidding

PARIS, Aug 20 (Reuters) - France will double the amount of solar power capacity it will commission to be built in a tender after high demand and competitive prices emerged during bidding, the French energy ministry said on Thursday.

It had launched a tender process for 400 megawatts (MW) of large, 250 kilowatt-peak (KWp) solar installations in September last year, and will now authorise a further 400 MW in view of offers submitted before an end-June deadline.

Almost 2,000 MW of ground-mounted capacity was offered, at prices that are for the first time as competitive as onshore wind tariffs, the ministry said in a statement.

The results will be announced in a few weeks and selected projects will have two years to get off the ground, it added.

Solar power capacity has grown slowly in France compared with Germany, Spain or Italy. It had 5.6 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity at end-2014, compared with 38.2 GW in Germany. Last year, more capacity was installed in Britain than in France.

But the government, which has just passed the final version of a long-delayed energy bill, intends to cut the share of nuclear power to 50 percent of the electricity mix in 2025, from the current 75 percent, the highest level in the world.

Renewable energy, including solar, is expected to account for 40 percent by then.

Reporting by Michel Rose, editing by William Hardy

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