President Emmanuel Macron said agrivoltaics will become one of the main pillars of France’s energy system. Xavier Daval, chair of French solar commission SER-Soler, spoke with pv magazine about the recognition of the role of solar integrated into agricultural production.

Solar integrated into agricultural production, or agrivoltaics, looks set to play a major role in solar development in France. The application received a special mention from President Emmanuel Macron when he announced his government’s proposed energy policy on Feb. 10, which included a 100 GW by 2050 solar goal.

Xavier Daval, chair of the French solar commission, SER-Soler, told pv magazine that the recognition of agrivoltaics as one of the “three pillars” of solar development points to its importance in PV development in the country.

“We have to understand that [in the 100 GW policy announcement] for the very first time solar is identified as a solution,” said Daval. “Second, the president spoke about agri-PV, he uses the word as the third pillar of solar, with the three being rooftop, ground-mounted, and agrivoltaics.”

Daval noted that the 100 GW solar target should be viewed through the lens of it having been made during an election campaign. Alongside the solar goal, Macron announced that the country would build six new EPR2 type nuclear reactors under the policy.

“The game is not over [for solar],” remarked Daval. While the 100 GW by 2050 goal may appear impressive, it does represent around 5 GW of annual installations – well below the ambition of other European countries.

“We need to analyze this sequence as one of a series included in the French presidential campaign,” he continued. “For me, the way I read the actual dilemma that occurs in France between nuclear and renewable is the typical fight between the ancient and the modern, the glorious past of France against the uncertainty of intermittency.”

“Are we wanting to step into the unknown of the future and endorse renewables or do we want to recover the past of France? Unfortunately, I have the feeling that the latter one is more attractive to the audience of the electorate.”

However, alongside the re-framing of solar as an energy solution for France, and agrivoltaics as a particularly promising application, there were other positives in the announced policy, Daval noted. In particular, he said that regulatory reform to accelerate solar deployment is a big positive for the industry.

“He [Macron] talked about the administrative complexity that has to be sorted out, and the delay, which we have spent not doing much. So, there are some very positive signals.”

The first round of the French presidential election will be held on April 10.