Summer heatwaves are a regular occurrence. Electricity prices have risen this winter. These factors are prompting the French to take action. They choose to install more solar panels on their roofs. Figures from Enedis show that the number of self-consumption installations has more than doubled in two years.
Exponential growth in individual solar panel installations
On June 30, 2023, there were 325,939 individual self-consumers of electricity in France. This represents an increase of 77% compared with mid-2022. The number of individual installations has more than doubled since mid-2021, to 121,346. In terms of installed capacity, the increase is 88% year-on-year, to 1,629 MW at June 30, says Enedis, compared with 868 MW at June 30, 2022 and 535 MW at June 30, 2021. Four departments in the south of the country stand out with installed capacities exceeding 50 megawatts. These departments are Haute-Garonne, Hérault, Bouches-du-Rhône and Isère. The French Ecological Transition Observatory points out this distinction. Enedis, the French electricity distribution network, is relaying this information.
Expansion of collective self-consumption and persistent challenges
But industrial departments such as Nord, Loire-Atlantique and Rhône are also growing strongly, with installed capacities of between 36 MW and 47 MW each. The Observatory notes an increase in collective self-consumption. This practice involves sharing electricity on a local scale. It concerns one or more producers. This happens at the level of a building, a condominium, a neighborhood or an industrial zone, for example. The development of this approach is noted. It is gaining in popularity and scope. As of June 30, 224 local collective operators were registered in the country, with the acceleration in the pace of growth mainly attributable to local authorities, which are responsible for 60% of projects, according to the Observatory. However, these figures still fall far short of the French photovoltaic market, especially when it comes to large-scale solar field installations.
Challenges for the ecological transition: Carbon neutrality targets and insufficient solar capacity
Photovoltaic power should reach between 92 and 144 GW of installed capacity by 2050 if France is to meet its carbon neutrality targets, as Ademe points out on its website. At the end of the first half of 2023, French solar photovoltaic capacity stood at just 18 GW, according to statistics from the French Ministry of Ecological Transition. Solar photovoltaic electricity production totaled 11.2 TWh in the first half, representing 4.7% of French electricity consumption over the period.