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Solar panels on the car park of a supermarket on a sunny day in Avignon, Provence, France. Electricity and shade for cars at the same time, © Shutterstock

The more the phase-out of fossil fuels such as coal and gas is promoted, the greater the demand for green electricity from alternative sources such as wind power and solar energy. France is showing how the transformation can be actively promoted. According to a resolution of the French Senate, all larger park areas in the country must generate electricity within the next three to five years. This is intended to boost the development of solar energy generation in France, especially in large commercial areas. According to the government, the potential of the measure could be up to 11 gigawatts, which is equivalent to the output of about ten nuclear reactors.

Article 11 of the bill to accelerate renewable energy was passed by the Senate in its first reading on 4 November. It stipulates that the largest outdoor car parks must gradually be equipped with photovoltaic (or other renewable energy) systems on at least half of their surface area. Originally, the bill applied to car parks with an area of more than 2,500 square metres. Now it has been decided to set a threshold for the number of parking spaces instead of the area. Thus, the regulation applies to car parks with more than 80 parking spaces (a threshold of 2,500 square metres would have corresponded to about 100 parking spaces).

The regulations will come into force on 1 July 2023 and will be introduced gradually, depending on the size of the parking spaces. Car parks with more than 400 spaces must comply within three years; within five years if the number is between 80 and 400. There are also exceptions: parking spaces for commercial vehicles (over 7.5 tonnes) are exempt from the regulations, as are parking spaces near places of note, in order to avoid “adulteration” of these places. The decision also poses a great challenge for the design of solar roofs; one can therefore look forward to corresponding designs.

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