France will launch a tender for wood-fired power plants for a total of 50 megawatt (MW) per year for three years and a tender for biogas-fired plants for 10 MW per year for three years, the energy ministry said in a statement on Monday.
The tenders – which will close by Aug. 8 with project selection before the year-end – will be open to wood-fired biomass plants with capacities below 25 MW and biogas plants with capacities below 5 MW. One fifth of the biomass tender will be reserved for projects smaller than 3 MW.
Three MW is about equivalent to one large wind turbine.
Bidders will have to propose wood-fired cogeneration plants with an energy efficiency level of at least 75 percent and will have to source wood from sustainable forestry.
Cogeneration plants – also called combined heat and power (CHP) plants – produce both heat and power and are usually located close to cities, which use the heat in district heating networks. Many are also fired by waste incineration.
The ministry said the biogas installations should not use food crops and that it will favour projects using animal manure.
Subsidies will be in the form of a premium on the power sold, but the ministry gave no details on the level of support.
Between 2009 and 2013, government environment agency ADEME’s “Fonds Chaleur” (Heat Fund) has allocated 1.12 billion euros to nearly 3,000 renewable heating projects, many of them operated by the energy services units of utilities EDF, Engie and Veolia.
Energy Minister Segolene Royal said last year the fund will spend another 420 million euros by 2017.
But France – which got more than 76 percent of its electricity from nuclear plants in 2015 – is way behind Germany and Nordic countries in its use of biogas and biomass such as wood or agricultural waste products.
Last year, just 1.4 percent of the power produced came from bio-energies, according to data from grid operator RTE. (Reporting by Geert De Clercq, editing by David Evans)