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France May Act to Protect Wind, Solar-Power Jobs as Growth Slows

France may unveil measures to safeguard jobs in wind and solar energy after subsidy cuts and tightening credit markets slowed growth in the industry.

The government may make an announcement during a two-day environment conference starting Sept. 14 in Paris, according to an Energy Ministry official who asked not to be identified. The plan would be an attempt to move quickly to help the industry, the official said, declining to provide details.

France, like the U.K. and Germany, has scaled back support for renewable energies after incentive programs led to runaway growth, equipment costs fell and economic stagnation curbed available funds. France put a cap on new solar installations last year, while wind companies are contending with a cut in the feed-in tariff, a premium price paid for clean power.

Even with these restrictions, President Francois Hollande is seeking to boost renewable-energy output as he works to reduce France’s reliance on nuclear power, which accounts for more than three-quarters of the nation’s electricity output.

The country had 2,503 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity at the start of the year and is seeking to more than double that by 2020, according to figures from grid operator Reseau de Transport d’Electricite. Wind capacity, totaling 6,674 megawatts at the start of 2012, is seen at 19,000 megawatts in 2020.

Still, the pace of wind installations is slowing, with 875 megawatts connected to the grid last year, short of the 1,400 megawatts needed to meet the 2020 target, trade lobby Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables said last month. “France’s wind energy sector is in danger,” it said.

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