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France solar moratorium intended to give lawmakers time to deal with Chinese import issue

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France’s Environmental Minister told a radio programme today that the nation’s decision to place a three-month freeze on most solar-energy projects was taken at least in part to stem the tide of cheaper Chinese solar panels flowing into the country.

Speaking on France Info Radio, Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said as much as 90 percent of the solar panels installed in France come from China and that as a result lawmakers must consider tightening import restrictions on those products.

“We are not here to subsidize the Chinese economy but to create green jobs in France,” Kosciusko-Morizet said.

According to the Bloomberg News Service, which reported on the minister’s remarks, a number of European governments are currently revising solar policies after realizing their subsidies were too generous and that developers bought a majority of the panels from Chinese suppliers rather than home-grown companies.

French lawmakers suspended solar projects with a capacity of at least 3 KW on 10 December as they consider what to do about the situation. However, some projects – those that agreed on earning the subsidized rates more than nine months ago with Electricite de France SA and are poised to generate power within the next 18 months – have been allowed to proceed.

France’s feed-in tariffs, among Europe’s highest, have sparked a boom in project applications and France, following similar moves in Spain and Germany, is seeking to limit the spiralling cost of clean energy for consumers, Bloomberg said.

For additional information:

Bloomberg News Service

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