Schemes to help with installing solar panels on homes in France have been continued this year, providing a number of options to help those making the switch to this kind of renewable energy.
As energy prices continue to rise, these schemes can be doubly effective, as not only do they decrease the cost of electricity bills, but certain schemes also provide annual payments for selling surplus energy back to main suppliers.
When it comes to installing solar panels for homes and businesses, it is important to note that there are different types of panels, with certain advantages only applying to specific installations.
There are two main types – solar thermal panels, which convert solar radiation into heat and photovoltaic panels that turn thermal energy into electricity.
These panels do not compete with each other, however, and can sometimes be mutually beneficial if installed together where applicable.
Below, we look at the three main financial benefits of installing solar panels, on top of the benefit to the environment from reducing your carbon footprint.
Surplus production bonus
The first aid is the Prime à l’autoconsommation which is a bonus paid out to people who opt to use their energy themselves and then sell the surplus to the national network (as opposed to selling only to the national network)
National energy companies such as EDF has an obligation to buy back surplus energy produced by solar panels.
This bonus is only for the installation of photovoltaic panels.
To make sure your set-up complies, the official advice is to have it installed by a firm that has the RGE (Reconnue Garant de l'Environnement) certification, meaning they have expertise in work related to energy saving and renewable energies. Work must also be approved by Consuel (Comité National pour la Securité des Usagers de l’Electricité) if the installation is connected to the grid or has a storage system.
You can search for RGE-certified companies in your area on this government website.
Both businesses and private residences can benefit from this bonus, as it can apply to all installations of photovoltaic panels, with the exception of ground-mounted panels and extremely large installations.
The latter would have a power output of over 100,000Wc, a unit called in French watt-crête (you will also sometimes see power of solar panels quoted in kilowatts-crête, for example, the largest units in which case are over 100kWc).
This bonus is on top of any payment you will receive for your surplus energy.
The level of the surplus energy bonus depends on the power of the installation, with the figures being updated every three months.
The latest figures are:
- €0.43 per Wc for an installation of up to 3,000Wc (a bonus of up to €1,290)
- €0.32 per Wc for an installation between 3,001 and 9,000Wc (up to €2,880)
- €0.18 per Wc for an installation of 9,001 to 36,000Wc (up to €6,480)
- €0.09 per Wc for an installation between 36,001 and 100,000Wc (up to €9,000)
The bonus is spread out in annual amounts over five years, or every six months over five years for the largest installations (over 36,000Wc).
Read more: Easy-fit French solar panels could cut electricity bill by €30 a month
Energy Savings Certificate bonus
The Energy Savings certificate bonus (Prime des Certificats d’Économies d’Énergie, or CEE) is aimed at helping the country with the transition to using more renewable energy.
It is a one-off subsidy paid for by energy suppliers to help cover some of the costs of panel installation and is aimed at solar thermal panels, whether just to heat hot water or also for the central heating sytem.
Savings could be up to €5,000 depending on factors such as location, size of the building, existing heating system, and new system installed.
Businesses and private households can apply for the bonus, as well as co-owners of residential buildings.
Your claim must be sent within 15 days of signing your contract with your installer, and an attestation d’honneur (signed by both you and the installer) must be sent alongside an invoice for the installation within 30 days of the work being completed to your chosen energy supplier.
It is recommended that you check how much you could save using an online calculating tool (such as ENGIE’s simulator here) before signing any contracts.
Within 15 days you should receive the payment.
Payment of the CEE is again dependent on installation by a RGE certified company.
The CEE can work in tandem with a number of other ecological based subsidiaries, including the MaPrime Renov’, or the zero-interest-eco-loan (up to a value of €15,000).
Read more: French eco-renovation grants increase as price of materials rises
Read more: Property renovation: new 0% loan to top-up French ‘MaPrimeRénov’ grant
For the installation of thermal or hybrid solar panels that are used specifically for heating purposes, there is a reduced VAT rate of 5.5%. For smaller installations (those under 3,000 Wp), the a reduced VAT rate of 10% applies.
Apply to mairie
All systems on roofs (or the ground if higher than 1.8m) must be registered with the mairie with a déclaration préalable de travaux.
In some situations, authorities can refuse permission – if the property is in a protected heritage area or located close to a historic monument, for example.
In these cases, coloured panels, now sold in France using technology discovered in Switzerland, may be a solution.
Read more: Coloured solar panels can offer solution for protected areas in France
Panels now have a life of at least 15 years, while inverters will probably have to be changed after 10 years.
Do you have any experience with installing solar panels in France? Please share your experiences via firstname.lastname@example.org
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