Jan 31, 2023
France’s Lower House Adopts Renewables Bill Opposed by Investor
(Bloomberg) -- France’s lower house of parliament adopted a bill aimed at accelerating the development of renewable energies, though critics such as billionaire investor Jacques Veyrat have said it would actually slow onshore wind and solar projects.
The government’s bill, significantly amended during parliamentary debates, was presented last year as a way to quickly lower France’s dependence on fossil fuels after Russia started reducing gas shipments to Europe. Concern over possible energy shortages also grew because of prolonged nuclear reactor shutdowns for maintenance and repairs.
The bill, which still needs to be voted on by France’s Senate, would allow for the creation by local authorities of preferred go-to and no-go areas for renewable projects. It also adds an obligation to cover new buildings and large parking lots with solar panels and would ban within a year new photovoltaic projects that require sizable deforestation. It will also limit such projects on farmland.
Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables, the country’s main renewable industry lobby, welcomed the proposed legislation in a statement before the bill’s adoption. It urged the government to mobilize more people to shorten permitting processes.
But in an op-ed published this month in Le Journal du Dimanche, Veyrat wrote that the creation of go-to areas for renewables will be long and unpredictable, slowing development. Veyrat owns 46.5% of French clean-power company Neoen SA and other green firms through his Impala SAS holding.
He added in the article the law ignores that developers may actually help manage forests with tree-planting projects.
Neoen and Engie SA are currently seeking to develop France’s largest solar project, which would entail cutting hundreds of hectares of forest, while replanting twice as many trees.
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