French authorities have announced plans to launch tenders to supply 240MW of solar power capacity along the country’s highways. 

The Regional Highways Division (DIR) will open the first calls for expressions of interest from April to May 2024 and has identified 140 car parking areas and 100 highway interchanges as potential suitable areas for solar deployments. 

Speaking to PV Magazine France, Kévin Guichard, project director of government agency Fin Infra, said that the potential projects would add up to around 240MW of total solarisable power, which represents “more than 7.5% of projects connected to the French electricity network in 2023”. 

The push to connect roads, car parks and solar power in France is nothing new. Legislation approved by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2022 requires all large car parks to be covered in solar panels, with the deadline for implementation now fast approaching. French car parks with between 80 and 400 parking spaces have until March 2028 to build-in solar capacity, while car parks with more than 400 spaces have until 2026. 

The tender will take place in two stages: in the first phase, responses to expressions of interest will be narrowed down to three to five potential candidates, with the most technically and financially viable granted the opportunity to apply for the second phase of the tender. At this stage, competitive bidding will take place.  

The selected company will be awarded a public domain occupation agreement for 33 years, during which they will pay public landowners a fixed fee as well as a variable fee based on turnover from the sale of generated electricity. Prior to this, however, the winner of the tender will have a deadline of three years to undertake development studies and finalise commissioning.

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