France Says All Large Parking Lots Should Be Covered By Solar Panels

France is the only EU nation that, due to its continued reliance on nuclear energy, failed not to meet its development goals for renewable energy in 2020. However, according to Public Senat, the French Senate has approved a bill mandating the installation of solar panels on parking lots with at least 80 spaces.

Parking lots with 80 to 400 spots will have five years to comply, starting in July 2023. From the same date, larger lots only have three years. Solar panels must always surround at least half of the parking lot. The government estimates that the proposal, which focuses mostly on parking spaces around major roads and highways, may produce up to 11 gigatons.

But there are a few notable exemptions. However, if they have “technical, safety, architectural, heritage, and environmental constraints,” outdoor parking lots could be exempt. Truck parking lots and lots with at least 50% of their area shaded by trees may also be exempted. When panel installation cannot be met under commercially acceptable conditions.

The government is considering building large solar farms on vacant land close to highways, railroad tracks, and agricultural areas in addition to solar parking lots. The national railroad company, SNCF, also plans to install more than a million square metres of solar panels by 2030 to reduce energy use by 25%.

Uncertainty surrounds the financing of these improvements by parking lot operators and the extent of government financial support. However, since it would give cars shade, it seems like a decent use of parking lots.

Solar-powered parking lots are still uncommon, with the Belgium Zoo parking lot being one of the larger instances. However, the 62,000 overhead solar panels that cover its 7,000 parking spaces provide 20 megawatts of peak power, far more than the zoo requires.

President Emmanuel Macron set a target to build 50 offshore wind projects to add another 40GW of capacity and double the output of solar energy to above 100GW by the beginning of this year.

Compared to its European neighbours, France today produces 25% less energy from renewable sources. Moreover, the nation’s energy supply issues have worsened due to nuclear power plant maintenance delays, which forced state electricity provider EDF to cut planned production.

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