The European Commission has approved three France initiatives to develop 2.6GW of solar and hydropower projects, supporting the schemes under the EU state aid rules.

Under the three schemes, France plans to develop develop around 2600MW of additional solar capacity and 60MW of additional hydropower capacity.

The EU noted that the two solar initiatives will receive a provisional budget of €439m per year or a total of €8.8bn over 20 years and the hydroproject will have a budget of €25m per year.

By implementing the projects, France is expected to achieve its 2020 target of producing 23% of the energy through renewable sources.

Under the renewable energy initiatives, a solar scheme will provide a preferential price payment (feed-in tariff) to operators of small-scale solar installations of less than 100kW in size, installed on domestic or commercial roofs.

This scheme will develop around 1.5GW of additional solar capacity.

For operators of larger solar installations, which range between 100 and 250kW and above 250kW, a solar scheme will support them with a feed-in tariff over twenty years.

Through a tender process conducted between July 2011 and March 2013, France has already selected the beneficiaries of the scheme, which will develop around 1.1GW in additional solar capacity.

The initiatives also include a hydropower support scheme that will grant support for up to 60MW of new hydropower plants.

While plants with a capacity of less than 500KW could receive a feed-in tariff, bigger installations will be supported by offering a top-up payment or 'feed-in premium'. 

The European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said: "These French initiatives will stimulate a greater use of renewable energy sources and provide legal certainty to the sector, while limiting the use of state support to the minimum.

"This is a very important balance for Europe in the pursuit of our environmental objectives."

Image: Europe to support France in the development of 2.6GW of renewable energy projects. Photo: Courtesy of khunaspix/