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Lots of Solar

France to require parking lot solar by law

French legislation was passed this week that will require all parking lots in the country with spaces for at least 80 vehicles to be covered by solar panels.

The new provisions are part of French president Emmanuel Macron’s large-scale plan to heavily invest in renewables, which aims to multiply by 10 the amount of solar energy produced in the country, and to double the power from land-based wind farms.

The provisions should stimulate the development of solar energy production in France, particularly in large commercial areas. According to the government, the potential of the measure could reach up to 11 gigawatts, or the equivalent of the power of ten nuclear reactors. Article 11 of the bill relating to the acceleration of renewable energies was adopted by the Senate on 4 November at first reading. It imposes the gradual equipment of the largest outdoor car parks with shades covered with photovoltaic panels (or another renewable energy process), on at least half of their surface.

Initially, the bill applied to car parks larger than 2,500 square meters. In committee, the senators preferred to define a threshold in number of places rather than in area. Car parks with more than 80 spaces will therefore be concerned, a threshold which includes more car parks since 2,500 square meters were equivalent to a hundred spaces. For the rapporteur (LR) Didier Mandelli, this concept has the merit of clarity and above all, of being “less subject to debate”, in particular on the parts of a car park to be excluded from any development.

One group tried unsuccessfully to revert to the metric system, arguing that squares could come in varying sizes. This point of view was shared by the government. “It is clear that it is easier to count square meters than to count spaces”, pleaded the Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, deploring the “sophistication” of the senatorial editorial staff.

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