RAY OF LIGHT
- An Expert's Opinion -
#4: Solar and the French Way by Markus Kirscht
Markus KIRSCHT is the Director of Sales at French solar component manufacturer, EDF ENR PWT
(Photowatt). A veteran in the industry, Markus has seen the French and European solar scenes unfold and
develop over the years.
1) Hello Markus. Could you give us a brief introduction to Photowatt and the competitive advantage of its solar
Photowatt is a pioneer in the PV industry, having been around for more than 40 years. Currently a subsidiary of the EDF Groupe, Photowatt was founded on the concept of a “labfab” that marries research and manufacturing skills under one roof, fostering the spirit of innovation and experimentation from laboratory to production testing. Throughout the years we developed our technical expertise in the design and the manufacture of different stages of the value chain: ingots, bricks, wafers through our in-house R&D programs.
Today, Photowatt specializes in the low carbon production of ingots and high-tech silicon wafers to produce highefficiency PV modules.
Photowatt has developed an innovative hybrid process to produce «mono-like» ingots containing more than 95% single crystals, using conventional «multi» directional solidification furnaces. The resulting substrate allows the products to achieve
both a high yield and longer lifespan at lower costs than conventional production methods with equivalent yield.
2) The French PV market favours low carbon content solar panels. Could you explain in non-technical words what
is the specificity of the French market, re: LCA?
The French market is "special" because it has a mandatory carbon content disclosure for projects >500kW. There are
several ways of calculating, but basically you need to get your carbon content certified before you can install panels in
France. For tender bidding, your application is evaluated on your carbon footprint score as well. This means that in order to
calculate the cost of electricity (€/MWh) in the public tenders in the French Market, you are required to submit your panels'
LCA value (life cycle analysis), besides BOS prices and Output Power.
Photowatt designs low carbon ingots and wafers made with our own French mono-like Crystal Advanced® technology to
produce modules that generate 3 times less carbon than Asian crystalline modules. Our wafers, produced with a low
carbon footprint, are integrated in PV modules to match the requirements of the French Government tenders for its
Pluriannual Energy Program (PPE), aimed to deploy around 2.5 GWp per year of PV projects.
3) What would you say are the biggest obstacles for new entrants to compete in the French market?
The biggest obstacles for new entrants would be to fulfil the tender requirements like LCA; tackling/understanding the
French bureaucracy and accepting that project construction time is longer than a lot of other countries.
Especially for the LCA calculation during tenders, the requirement is to submit your LCA value before the tender closure.
However, you often bid for projects that will start construction in a couple of years. Solar PV is still experiencing rapidly
evolving technological innovations. Therefore, successful tendering in the French market requires a strong understanding of both module technological aspects and regulatory LCA processes.
4) What, in your opinion, are the prospects of the French PV market in the next 5 years?
France has always been the market that sees more or less 1GW of installation annually. But this changed in 2021.
We have installed 1.4GW in H1 alone!...which is was more than any past annual installation volume. For the whole of 2021, we will probably hit 2.7GW.
France has set a national target of hitting approximately 20GW by 2023. At the end of 2020, the delta was about 9GW,
which would imply an average installation rate of 3GW per year.
Although we are facing major components cost increase like everyone else, I am quite optimistic that the situation will
improve by the second half of next year.
5) Finally, what is the next trade fair in Europe you will be attending?
After more than 18 months of dealing with Covid and not being able to meet like before, we were proud to be at Intersolar
Munich last week.
We hope to see more partners and friends at the next trade show, ENERGAIA, in December in Montpellier, France!
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are personal to the author and do not necessarily represent those of Photowatt.
Markus KIRSCHT, Director of Sales, EDF ENR PWT (Photowatt)
Should you have any feedback and/or comments, OR if you wish to contribute, please write to us at Farahdian.Aziz@ssx.com.sg. We hope you have enjoyed the read!