Are there grants to help install solar panels in France?

A reader question is answered in the Connexion September issue, on solar panels and financial aid.

28 August 2020
Solar panels under a blue sky by Lincoln Electric Systems, Lincoln Nebraska.Reader question: is there financial aid for solar panel installation in France?
By Liv Rowland

Are there any grants or tax advantages to help home-owners install solar panels? C.W.

There is no tax credit for installing solar photovoltaic panels. However, there is a state grant available if you plan to use part of the electricity produced for your own use, and sell part of it back to the national grid, known as vente en surplus. This prime à l’autoconsommation photovoltaïque is paid out over the first five years after the panels are installed.

It is not available in cases where all energy produced is sold to the grid: the energy produced must first be used by the home and the surplus sold. The amount varies according to the power of your installation and is calculated per kWc, a measure of the amount of electricity produced by photovoltaic panels. The amount reduces as the installation gets bigger, to help those with more modest panel arrays.

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For an installation of overall power of 3kWc or less – this category is the most common for homes and equates to around 10 panels installed on a roof – the grant is a one-off €390 per kWc; between 3-9kWc, €290/kWc; between 9-36kWc, €190kWc; 36-100kWc, €90.

The amount of the grant is fixed, along with the tariff for purchase of your electricity, when you make the application to be linked up to the grid, via Enedis or EDF. It comes into effect after the installation is operational and you have signed a contract for purchase of your electricity. The installation must be done by an installer with the RGE environmental certification. You can find one here: renovation-info-service.gouv.fr/trouvez-UN-professionnel.

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If you want to know more about what is feasible, you can obtain advice from the official Faire network of advisers. Insert whether you are an owner-occupier, owner who rents out the property, or tenant, plus your postcode, at this page: faire.gouv.fr/trouver-un-conseiller.

Small photovoltaic panel installations (less than or equal to 3kWc) also benefit from a low rate of 10% VAT. Some councils offer grants towards solar installations, so you should also inquire with your mairie and departmental and regional councils, or check their websites.

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