In France, the energy policy is driven by two main government initiatives:
The POPE law of July 2005, which deals with Energy strategy in connection with the country’s long-term "factor 4" objective (reducing the greenhouse emissions by a factor 4 from 2005 to 2050). The goal of this law is to produce an additional 50% of renewable heat energy (15 MToe by year versus 10 MToe in 2003).
The “Grenelle Environment Round Table” which is a process aimed to define the key points of government policy on ecological and sustainable development issues. The “Grenelle Environment” is a debate organised during the summer 2007 between French government and some representatives of the civil society (professional associations, citizen and environmental advocacy organisations…).
Solar thermal is supported by the Government through financial incentives. These incentives are designed to support the production of 100,000 Toe each year until 2020, which represents the installation of 15 to 20 million cumulated m².
Two kinds of financial support exist. One for individual houses and the other for apartment and service sector buildings.
This financial measure is a tax credit for homeowners and not a reduction of the tax. Therefore, people who do not pay taxes can still receive a payment. The amount of the subsidy is half of the equipment price before taxes and does not include installation.
The tax credit is applicable for heating and hot water solar systems with CSTBat or Solar keymark certified collectors.
Fond chaleur “heat funding”
This financial measure supports the production of hot water in apartments, office buildings, hostels and swimming pools. A minimum of 25m² of collectors is required to be eligible, and heating and cooling solar systems are not eligible for the “fond chaleur”.
The subsidy is proportional to the heat production and depends on where you live in France. A certain amount of the subsidy is granted for monitoring so that energy performance can be measured for several years.
The collectors must be CSTBat or Solar keymark certified and the building must comply with the French heating thermal regulation.
Some additional rules are present : -minimum solar yield per unit of solar collector per year depending on the area of the project (from 350 to 450 kWh/m².y)
- maximum of eligible investment is taken into account to size the grant level (1100 to 1200€/m²)
Contrary to the tax credit, this subsidy scheme provides a financial incentive to measure the solar heat production.