Ambitious Solar Plans in France; Solar Capacity Factors

The following guest post was written by Tom Standing, a “semi-retired, part-time civil engineer for the City of San Francisco.” In Part 1, Tom took a critical look at a 280 MW solar thermal plant in Arizona. Here in Part 2, Tom examines France’s ambitious solar plans.


The December 1 issue of the Oil and Gas Journal carried a “Quick Take” article about France’s “national plan for renewable energies” that they unveiled on November 17. Their plan includes all the popular ideas for alternative energy: biomass, wind, hydro, waves and tides, with a major emphasis on solar. For now France has 13 megawatts of installed capacity in solar, but the energy minister wants solar to be a whopping 5,400 MW in 2020! He says that France will change its carbon-based energy model to a completely decarbonized model: each home, company, and community will produce its own energy.

Excuse me, but why is France doing this? They already have the least carbon-intensive energy system of any industrialized nation. They generate 75% of their electricity with nuclear, supported by the most extensive technology to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, than any nation in the world. Practically 100% of their rail system is electrified, packed with people, whether on the Paris Metro or speedy intercity trains. France has already developed the working model of a low-carbon energy system for other nations to emulate.

Let’s do some rational calculations on France’s solar plan, similar to my last email. We can see what surface area of collectors would be needed, and how much electricity would be generated.

Collector Area

As I explained previously, solar panels are rated at their maximum output, when the sun is near its highest altitude for the year under cloudless skies. Under such ideal conditions, insolation is about 1,000 watts per square meter. The most cost-effective panels convert about 10% of insolation into useful electricity, a factor that has remained unchanged for 10 years. Some PVs might convert 15%, but they cost more and are not mass-produced. Thus a typical panel of one square meter is rated at 100 watts.

To estimate the area of PV panels that France wants to install, we simply divide 5,400 MW by 100 W/m2 and we get an incomprehensible 54 million m2! It means that one million homes and businesses would have to be covered with 54 m2 of panels. A typical home can accommodate only 25-30 m2, so more than a million buildings would have to install PV. I do not know the worldwide capacity for manufacturing PV panels, but I would guess that current capacity is a small fraction of 54 million m2/year. Oh sure, capacity will grow, but what about PV for Germany, Spain, UK, the Low Countries, and the US? California alone would suck up a major chunk of that capacity.

Solar Electricity Generated

Let’s say that France actually installs 54 million m2 of solar by 2020. (I think it’s fantasy in the extreme, but let’s carry the scenario through.) How much electricity will the fully built-out system generate?

First, we need to estimate the insolation upon the collectors. While I have copious insolation data from NREL for the US, I have no site-specific data for Europe. But I can make a reasonable estimate. Having traveled throughout France at various times for a total of about 3 months (typically in the summer), I can say that France has mild sun conditions. I would compare the French summer sun to that of Cleveland or Minneapolis. However, France is located at somewhat higher latitudes, which tends to reduce midday sun strength and spreads it out over more daylight hours. The northern suburbs of Paris, say around de Gaulle International, is latitude 49o, the northern-most boundary between the US and Canada. The south-most reaches of France, are between latitude 43 and 44, equivalent to Buffalo, NY or Portland, Maine.

I will pick a number on the generous side for annual average insolation in France, equivalent to that of Boston, New York, Chicago, and Minneapolis:

4.6 kWh/ (m2-day).

This level of insolation is for optimum panel orientation: facing due south with no shading, tilted at an angle equal to local latitude. Varying amounts of shading with less than ideal orientation will reduce the insolation on the collectors of most installations.

Now we are ready to calculate the annual energy generated from the fully-built French PV system. As I showed in Section 8 of my previous email, the annual energy generated by a solar installation is the product of four factors:

Insolation, average day during a year = 4.6 kWh/ (m2-day)

10% conversion of insolation into electricity, the industry standard for PV

Area of solar collectors = 54 million m2

365 days/year

Cancelling out units and carefully watching orders of magnitude, we come up with 9 billion kWh of useful electricity generated during the first year of complete build-out. But we need to give this number some perspective.

Energy Generation in Perspective

EIA statistics show that French consumption of electricity grew from 353 billion kWh in 1992 to 415 billion in 2002, or 62 billion kWh in 10 years for an average gain of 6.2 billion kWh/year.

It means then, that this huge solar development would, at best, produce the equivalent of only 1.5 years of gain in France’s electricity consumption. And it would take a 12-year crash program to install that much solar!

Another comparison is with the annual power output of one of France’s 1,000 MW nuclear power reactors. If the reactor operates for a year at 90% capacity (typical for the industry), the three factors to multiply are: 90%, one million kW, and 8,760 hours/year. Multiplying out these factors, we find that a single reactor would produce about 8 billion kWh/year, roughly the equivalent electricity as all the solar panels covering nearly 2 million homes and businesses.

Costs for PV

In the US, homes and businesses that install PV typically receive “rebates,” (another word for “subsidies”) from state or local governments, or the utility, to be paid for by all ratepayers. Rebates usually amount to about half of the total installed cost. The unit cost for solar installations has changed little since 2000, in the range of $600 – $700 per square meter, or in the terms of the industry, $6,000 – $7,000 per rated kW. Thus a homeowner usually qualifies for a rebate of 6 or 7 thousand $ after installing a 2 kW PV system.

I don’t know if French taxpayers and ratepayers will subsidize solar installations, but the unsubsidized cost remains the same and must be paid by somebody. Total installed cost of the solar plan for France, then, would run in the neighborhood of $35 billion. What is the cost of building a single reactor in a nuclear power plant? Considerably less I would say.

Solar Capacity Factors

We can calculate capacity factors for any solar project directly from insolation data. This provides a shortcut to calculating electrical output on an annual or monthly basis when we are given the nameplate capacity. The capacity factor depends only on insolation during the time period in question, and is independent of the conversion factor between insolation and electricity.

The capacity factor is defined as the ratio of actual energy generated, to the energy generated at maximum insolation, i.e. nameplate capacity. Therefore, our ratio is:

actual average isolation/maximum insolation

Maximum insolation, we have seen, is 1,000 W/m2.

Actual insolation is given in kWh/ (m2-day). We have to convert this quantity into units of W/m2. We cancel out hours and days by dividing actual insolation by 24 h/d. For example, if insolation is 5.0 kWh/ (m2-day), the average power output during one day is 5,000/24 = 208 watts. Average power output divided by maximum insolation (1,000 W/m2) gives a capacity factor of 20.8%.

If you have some time during this busy season to look at this, I would value your input. I would like to take the discussion about “green energy” beyond all the vague generalizations that we hear repeatedly from our leaders about stimulating a green or clean energy future. It’s as if “renewable energy” is a virgin topic, yet to be assessed and waiting to be tapped. But we already have a great amount of information with which to evaluate avant-garde energy proposals. We need to put hard numbers to these generalizations.

28 thoughts on “Ambitious Solar Plans in France; Solar Capacity Factors”

  1. The thing is, we’ll never get anywhere if we just throw our hands up and say its all to hard and too expensive. We need to rapidly stimulate all promising alternative technologies. Imagine if the Wright brothers had decided their aircraft was too inefficient compared to train travel and shelved their idea! When the world has invested as much into solar technology as it has put into coal and nuclear, it will be much cheaper than it is today, just as air travel is now much cheaper than when it was first introduced.

  2. The thing is, we’ll never get anywhere if we just throw our hands up and say its all to hard and too expensive.

    I agree completely with that. The reason I put posts like this up is that I think it is very important to understand the reality of the situation. Personally, I have been very optimistic about solar power, but that really isn’t my area. So I put a post like this up, really hoping someone out there who is really knowledgeable can poke holes in the logic, or can point out some ways around some of the difficult issues.

    Even my ethanol posts were always done in that vein. I want to put a realistic face on the overhyped claims, but I am also always hopeful that people can point out some things I haven’t thought about. In my opinion, that’s the strength of this blog. There is a very diverse group of people out there who can contribute to the discussion.

    And the discussions that go on here are by no means mental masturbation, as people have acted on the things written here. I myself have acted on the things written here. I have had many positive discussions offline – with people who are developing alternative energy – on the basis of things we discuss here.

    So don’t get frustrated by posts like these. Let’s keep plugging away, trying to search for the best solutions.

    Cheers, RR

  3. How will we ever find 54 million square meters? How about if we express that as 54 square kilometres and it seems a bit less frightening. And forget about rooftop installations for now. Cost per installed watt for large farm installations is much lower. Total price tag for 5,400 should be closer to $25 billion. And consider that Germany already has around 4,000 MW installed in the past 8 years or so and the French goals are not particularly unreasonable.

    The French utility EDF has invested a significant stake in Nanosolar who are bragging of a 1000 MW/year production tool for cells with something closer to a 14% efficiency and $1/watt selling price.

    The French combination of nuclear base power with peak from solar is brilliant and super low carb! Add to this their plans for an electric vehicle charging network and they are going to be way out front of the rest of us.


    Jay Shaw

  4. Cushing spot at $33 a barrel…and the recession is just starting….see you at $10….there is literally not enough tanks in the world (on land or sea) to store the excess supply….

  5. In examining the costs of power plants, we should also try to include the external costs, such as pollution.
    It is true that wind farms and solar power plants eat land up, and deliver expensive energy.
    I support the slow building of solar and wind plants, but mostly as a U.S. jobs program. It is a gift to future generations, rather than just more debt.
    But mostly, I think we should look long and hard at “mini-nuke” plants of the sort Tim Draper supportt, or Maury’s geothermal. France is nuking up, and successfully. They appear likely to obtain post-fossil economy in our lifetimes, and I say that even though I am bald. (Doomsters will have to find another doomy angle to harp on).
    Also, I have been doing work for architects in the last year. It is remarkable how newer buildings and lights can consume much, much less energy than older buildings. Retrofit buildings likewise.
    With effort and sensible conservation, I doubt we need much net new power in the US, although shifting population and growth may require a few new plants.
    The fact is, new power plants are not expensive relative to, say, even a small war. We have spent a trillion dollars in Iraq, but a new power plant is only a billion or so.
    Really, I don’t see a problem here.

  6. RRapier, et alia:

    There are no “holes” to poke in Standing’s euqations. He has been careful with units, orders of magnitude. The “20.4%” power factor is typical for non-arid parts of the world. The French though DO HAVE areas that bask (basque?) in cloudless days, week after week. France has a strong infrastructure to deliver power far from where it is generated, so it does not have to be on the millions of 17th century homes and huvels that dot the countryside.

    It still would take at least 40 sq. km. though to achieve the goal. That’s not a particularly large amount of land, actually. About 6-1/2 kilometers on a side … or 40 patches of 1 square kilometer apiece. Easy.

    The other side of the picture is that Standing’s efficiency is pessimistic. Kyocera is producing trainloads of polysilicon PV panels measuring 150 cm by 100 cm, achieving 13.5% average. Commonly produced single-crystal panels (at about the same $perWatt price) achieve 17%, no sweat. GE single crystal 85watt panels (with 90% coverage) are putting up 18% efficiency for their size. Sanyo released specs on an economical-to-produce hetereojunction single-crystal process delivering 21%. The CuCdTe folks regularly claim exess of 20% efficiency, with some wild claims around 35% … but “where’s the beef?” (i.e. who is making them in boxcar-sized loads?)

    So, let’s look at this – each square meter of good sunny property, with 18% panels (“mandated”) will generate 5.7 kWh (sol) x 0.18 (eff.) = 1 kWh/day per square meter and … 1000W x 18% = 180 peak watts per square meter. Good number to use for the year is “250 kWh/year” per square meter. This covers the weather issues.

    That’s more like it – and it matches up to a number of peer-reviewed studies.

    Question is, as surmised, will the world’s PV capacity ramp up to deliver? If only we look at substituting 10% of world energy consumption (18,750 billion kWh, 2007 total) with PV by 2020 … that would probably be around 2,500 billion kWh, or 2,500,000,000,000 / 250 kWh-p-yr = 10,000 sq. km of land surface. But that’s also a LOT of panels! I think it is going to take a humungous industrial investment to manufacture this level of PV production. …

    2020 – 2009 = 11 years = 4,000 manufacturing days (24/7). Panels needed = 15,000,000,000 … divided by 4,000 days = 4,000,000 panels a day. Wow! Well … let’s be realistic:

    China: 25 huge plants
    America: 15 large plants
    Europe: 3 huge plants
    Canada: 1 plant
    India; 2 huge plants
    Southeast Asia: 10 huge plants
    Russia: 1 touted prototype plant
    Central America: 0
    Africa: 0
    South America: 2 huge plants
    Australia: 1 giant plant.

    Call it 60 plants of humungous size.

    4,000,000 panels / 60 ~= 70,000 panels per plant per day, or about 1 panel per second, round the clock.

    Well, that isn’t unachievable. Sheets of plywood come off plywood factories (which require a LOT of processing steps, let’s not forget) about 1 per second, around the clock. Sheet-rock, even faster. I think the number “1 per second per factory” isn’t unrealistic.

    So, it can be done.

    But at what cost? Well, each plant is what a couple Billion to set up? Should they be governmentally sponsored, just as the governments of the world have long agreed to cough up the money to build hydroelectric dams, and other “big civic things”? Of course!

    Should the other technologies (CuCdTe, etc., nanosolar, activated-layer solar-on-gallium arsenide, SolarThermal and the rest) be developed? YES! But, in only a minor way until they easily beat the 18% / $3.50perWatt manufacturing sweet spot of PV. That’s the only ECONOMIC thing they have to beat. Dollar per watt, at some reasonably comparable areal efficiency (because the dirt under the arrays costs money just to own!)j

    And yah … per the previous comments … let’s just get used to using the power during the day. I’m sure a lot of industries will be happy to abolish their graveyard shifts.

  7. “I don’t know if French taxpayers and ratepayers will subsidize solar installations, but the unsubsidized cost remains the same and must be paid by somebody.”

    The plan to use a feed-in tariff of €0.45/kWh for commercial buildings, €0.33/kWh for residential and ground mounted and €0.55/kWh for building integrated solar PV.

    (Yes, they really plan to pay 10-20 times the cost of nuclear energy at the bus-bar. I’d rather they just build some pumped-hydro storage and stop load-following with their nuclear plants).

  8. very interesting and instructive two articles by author. thanks for the posts.

    “why would a french politician put forward such a proposition”? is this not silly season for EU environmental agreements/agendas? a renewed discussion around “clean and Green” by Brussels, while reality of nuclear and coal are in the frontline plans of industry in the major west and east EU nations.

    thanks for the frequent technical content for a person with mostly macro views on such topics. it complements my views derived by obserRving THE “PAY FOR PLAY” practicioners in the business[FPL inc, eg.]. watching what they do with their two main income generators together with info such as these articles provides good balance.

    again, thanks.


  9. Solar is just a part of the solution. Wind power made up 30% of installed generating capacity last year. When renewables make up 100% of new installations,we’ll be well on our way.

  10. Looks like a couple of people have already addressed this, but I’ll go at it from a slightly different angle.

    I do not know the worldwide capacity for manufacturing PV panels

    According to–707.html
    Global solar-cell production grew 50.9 percent in 2007, reaching 3.7 gigawatts,

    So 1.5 years worth of 2007-level production would fill France’s plan, but since they’re hoping to do 5400 MW in 12 years, during each of those 12 years, France would only take up on eighth of the global 2007-level production. That’s not incomprehensible, especially if production continues to grow 50% annually over the next decade.

  11. Benny,did you see where Pemex says their Cantarell field put out 33% less this year? Yikes. That’s the 3rd largest oil field in the world. When Ghawar starts declining 33% per year,we’re in for a world of hurt. Russia’s output dropped by 300,000 bpd,and will drop a similar amount next year. Only KSA produces more than Russia. I know you believe in the demand side Benny,but this time around we’ve got peak oil to contend with. And there’s no way in hell demand can drop as fast as supply. We’ll see $100 oil again next year. Or more…

  12. Excellent analysis. Solar and wind power advocates frequently forget the scale of the world’s energy needs. These two posts on solar should be required reading — if only to make the public more numerate. Energy technologies are policed by three brutal cops: energy density, cost, and scale.

  13. Cost for solar are typically high right now, but they may be dropping. First Solar is now the 5th largest producer of solar cells.
    And a recent article claims solar installation at $3.17/W
    First Solar’s claim to fame for the past several years has been in its ability to churn out large numbers of panels and a fairly low cost. Last month, the company said it was able to produce panels at $1.08 per watt. The figure, however, is a blended average of all of the company’s factories. First Solar’s cost out of its Malaysian factories is lower, closer to 75 cents.

    The $40 million system at Sempra is comprised of 168,300 panels, which First Solar installed at a cost of $3.17 per watt, Bachman wrote. (The installed cost is higher because it includes frames and installation, not just the solar module.)

  14. “we’ll never get anywhere if we just throw our hands up and say its all to hard and too expensive.”

    And if we all work really hard, and we are really unified, we can make this best yearbook ever.

    We live with fundamental constraints imposed us by nature. We must understand those constraints in order to make our plans.

    Mr. Standing has given us a gift of great value in the form of his work. You may or may not like his conclusions, but unless you can demonstrate with fact and reason why they are wrong you are not advancing the cause.

  15. France has 13 megawatts of installed capacity in solar, but the energy minister wants solar to be a whopping 5,400 MW in 2020!

    I’m having a hard time reconciling this 13 MW number with what I’m finding elsewhere.
    France had cumulative installed PV of 75.2 MW in 2007, which is more than Germany had in 1999. Did a “7” somehow become a “1” and a “5” turned into a “3”? Germany installed 1135 MW of PV in 2007 for a cumulative total of 3800 MW. If Germany adds 1135 MW in 2008 and 2009, it will reach 5400 MW in early 2009.

    Fat Man writes:
    We live with fundamental constraints imposed us by nature. We must understand those constraints in order to make our plans.

    Should we throw up our hands and say it’s all too hard and too expensive for France to do in the next 10 years what Germany has done in the past 10 years? France has more land area, and is sunnier than Germany, and installed price of PV systems have gone down in the past decade? What are the fundamental constraints imposed on us by nature that will prevent France from doing what Germany has done?

  16. Using current PV costs is an over estimate as the price continues to fall. Using current nuclear construction costs is an under estimate as these continue to climb.

    PV has low maintenance cost vs nuclear lifetime costs which include reprocessing, security and decommissioning.

    Nuclear is capital intensive compared to PV which is job intensive. France has high unemployment – better to create jobs than to pay unemployment benefit. For each extra job created you can subtract the cost of unemployment off the governments price.

    People prefer to live under a PV panel rather than next to a reactor – and those affected by new nuclear construction will vote accordingly.

    The article below suggests Nuclear construction costs in the UK are around US$8.4b – total lifetime cost is likely to significantly higher – the French no doubt have the best lifetime cost estimates of any government.

    So even the blog article’s high PV figure (US$35b) is likely close to the real lifetime cost of nuclear without taking in to account the extra benefits listed above.

  17. I wouldn’t discount the French on their ability to push this type of “technology mandate”. They have shown themselves capable on several occaisions.

    First on nukes. We’ve all seen it and know it. What are they at?… 75 or 80% of their electricity supply from nuclear? Big commitment… delivered.

    Second…diesel particulate filters. The French made a commitment that it was the right thing to do and drove it prior to Euro emissions requirements for them. Led by PSA (Peugeot) they made soot filters standard on diesel passenger cars starting in 1997 or 1998. The German press and “green” political movement had a field day with the German manufacturers…”The French can do it but we can’t?!”. Mercedes, VW, and BMW were forced to bring the technology to market quickly by the French.

    So, maybe solar energy is needed on an even larger scale, but I’m not going to doubt the French resolve. We’ll see.

    My first post after finding the blog and being a daily reader for only a month. I would like to thank Robert and all the readers/responders for some really intersting stuff (I’m still going through the archives!)

  18. Anonymous writes,
    PV has low maintenance cost vs nuclear lifetime costs which include reprocessing, security and decommissioning

    That may be true, but it really isn’t a valid comparison. You should compare maintenance costs to maintenance costs and compare lifetime costs to lifetime costs. After all, it would be true to say that
    Nuclear has low per KWH maintenance cost vs PV lifetime costs which include construction, cleaning and decommissioning.

  19. Yes, we should throw up our hands and declare PV a distraction and move on!

    Problem: Provide electricity when it is needed.

    Solution: PV output does not match load curves based on PJM, Miswest, and California ISO. Therefore, PV can only supplement other sources.

    Problem: Reduce the environmental impact of other sources of electricity. Therefore LCA has to show PV is lower than other sources but is about the same as nuclear. While there is a good deal of irrational fear concerning radiation, installing panels on a roof, smoke emitting diodes in the utility room, and back feeding power to the grid is not a step in the right direction for safety.

    Ignoring safety, PV has to produce electricity to reduce the impact of fossil fuel.
    Here is a sample of a good utility solar project with an actual CF = 19 compared to the expected 20%.

    Springerville Generating Station:

    The basic problem I have with PV is that it is done for public relations. More often than not systems have a capacity factor of less than 5%. The cost of maintaining system will not be supported by the value of the electricity produced.

    Since Clee has a PV system, maybe he would look up the cost to replace the components to convert PV output to grid voltage. At what point does a dedicated solar advocate like Clee, throw up his hands and say Kit is right leave producing electricity to professionals.

    At CF less than 5%, PV has higher environmental impact than coal. While Clee may have a higher threshold for pain, fixing the PV system is a low priority. Putting a 10 MWe PV system next to a 500 MWe NG lowers the cost of maintaining the PV system but someone has to pay.

  20. To get the french PV highest feed in tariff (0.57 euro/kWh + inflation based formulae over 20 years) you must remove your roof tiles and replace them by PV panels.

    This means that you must risk your roof integrity to put PV panels in France.
    You cannot, as the german do, just put the PV panels just above your regular roof with no risk at all to the integrity of your house roof.

    That is why there is much less PV installed in France than Germany, even with a higher feed-in tariff.

    This idiocy was put in the french law by the nuclear lobby/EDF shareholders to limit the number of PV systems installed, and it still is successfull.

  21. KitP,
    Yes, the inverters we have cost thousands of dollars and have mere 5-year warranties. For average users that's pretty costly. But with the high tier pricing here in PG&E territory, reaching as high as 57 cents/KWH on the time-of-use schedule, (yes, it's gone up since I last mentioned it at The Energy Blog,) the electricity bill savings will easily pay for that periodic expense. I hope when we do need to replace the inverters that we will be able to use one of the new ones that have 10-year or 15-year warranties. PV is no more dangerous than a hot water heater, and yet just about everyone has one in their house.

  22. “PV is no more dangerous than a hot water heater, and yet just about everyone has one in their house. ”

    Typical California logic. No hazards exist for the clueless.

    Of course hot water heaters and making electricity is dangerous. The consequences of failure is death. However, such things are designed with redundant safety features to protect the clueless.

    I get a sense of satisfaction by heating with wood. Clearly is more dangerous than making electricity with PV.

    However, I will continue to point out that there is no societal benefit to making your own electricity.

  23. “The most cost-effective panels convert about 10% of insolation into useful electricity”

    Wait, when was this posted again? Oh, December of 2008? This author is way behind on what’s going on.

    As mentioned elsewhere in the comments, 16% and up are commonplace, and higher efficiencies are becoming more readily available.

    Just wait till they perfect the coating of the cells (nanoparticles / chemical coating) do any number of things like light scattering, or frequency shifting of light, to bring up efficiencies well beyond 20% with relatively little cost per Watt.

    As it is, the Solar Industry is due to produce 10 to 14 Gigawatts of Solar Modules, with a 2010 Industry Capacity of 25 Gigawatts.

    Ah well, he can keep his Nuclear. It’s about done.

  24. I do not know the worldwide capacity for manufacturing PV panels

    Numbers are out for 2008 now, though it’s not that particular statistic.
    World Solar Photovoltaic Market Grew to 5.95 Gigawatts in 2008… representing growth of 110% over the previous year… World solar cell production reached a consolidated figure of 6.85 GW in 2008, up from 3.44 GW a year earlier.

    So one year’s worth of 2008 production could more than supply the 5400 MW needed for France’s 12-year plan.

  25. Ambitious solar plans in China.

    First I thought 150 MW PV in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in 2014 was large.

    Then I thought 500 MW PV in Jiangsu over the next 5 years was ambitious.

    But now, 2 GW PV in Inner Mongolia by 2019, that's mind boggling.

    I get the impression that China will install 5400 MW PV during the 12 year span of France's solar plan, even if France doesn't. It's more a question of political will than technical feasibility (collector area, cost, solar capacity factors, etc). Time will tell.

  26. France has increased its cumulative installed PV from 75.2 MW in 2007 to 179.7 MW in 2008, according to Table 2 of
    That's more than doubled in a year. At that (probably unsustainable) doubling rate, France could reach it's 5400 MW goal in 2013. But that seems unlikely to me. Going with a longer rate; France's installed capacity went from 17.2 MW in 2002 to 179.7 MW in 2008, a 10x increase in 6 years. At that rate, France could reach 1797 MW in 2014 and 17,970 MW by the 2020, or 3x their goal for 2020.

    According to Photon International, Germany's total installed PV could be 10,000 MW at the end of 2009.
    That would mean that Germany went from 113.7 MW in 2000 to well over 5,400 MW in 2009. If Germany could do that in 9 years, there's no technical reason why France can't go from 179.7 MW to 5,400 MW in 9 years or by 2017.

    I don't know if France will actually reach 5400 MW of PV in 2020, but it's not at all "fantasy in the extreme".

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