France's renewable energies sector could face a sharp slowdown in wind and solar power projects if the far-right wins the next legislative elections, even though a long-awaited programming law was supposed to accelerate their development.

Emmanuel Macron's surprise decision to dissolve the National Assembly after Sunday's European elections, which saw the Rassemblement National (RN) garner over 31% of the vote, could result in the country's energy policy being handed over to the far-right party after the June 30 and July 7 polls.

In this area, the RN has pledged to "return to households" five billion euros in subsidies "paid in particular to wind turbines", to "halt" wind power projects and to "gradually dismantle" existing wind farms. Marine Le Pen's party also wants to "relaunch" the nuclear and hydroelectric sectors, and invest in hydrogen.

"It's clear that a RN-dominated Parliament would facilitate the implementation of legislation that would at the very least slow down the development of renewable energy projects," said a spokesperson for Velocita Energies, a subsidiary of Chinese company Envision that operates wind farms in France.

Engie shares, France's leading producer of onshore wind power, have fallen by 6.1% since Monday, reducing their market capitalization by 2.1 billion euros.

France, which has around 45 gigawatts (GW) of installed wind and solar capacity, is lagging behind its neighbors in renewable energies, and has failed to meet targets set by the European Commission. Around 65% of its electricity production will come from nuclear power in 2023.

While the government was due to present a new energy programming project on Thursday and submit it for consultation from June 27, this text - already almost a year behind schedule - has been put on hold pending the outcome of the forthcoming elections.

"THE FIELD IS COMPLETELY OPEN".

According to successive drafts presented since the end of 2023, it planned to double the annual rate of solar installations to 75-100 GW by 2035 (from 21.1 GW at the end of March), with 40-45 GW of onshore wind installations (from 22.3 GW) and 18 GW of offshore wind (from 1.5 GW).

The RN is unlikely to dismantle existing wind turbines because of the threat of legal action, but the granting of new permits could dry up if the party comes to power, said an official of a European company owning wind farms in the country.

According to an assessment carried out in the summer of 2023 by the Commission de régulation de l'énergie (CRE), public support for solar photovoltaics should cost around 590 million euros in 2024, while onshore wind power would bring in nearly 3 billion for the state.

Slower deployment of renewable energies could also reduce France's ability to cover its energy demand over the next 15 years before new nuclear reactors are built, according to Rana Adib, Executive Director of REN21.

"France must contribute to the European energy system by developing, alongside nuclear power, renewable energies, which have demonstrated their strengths and competitiveness and will be indispensable, given the cost and deployment schedule of new nuclear power," argued Engie in a written statement.

Jules Nyssen, president of the Syndicat des énergies renouvelables (SER), pointed out that the legislative elections would be held "in a context where the field is completely open", with government plans for the energy transition having only been announced in speeches, including Emmanuel Macron's speech in Belfort in early 2022.

"This observation leads us to consider that there is a very high stakes surrounding energy issues in these legislative elections (...). There is a certain urgency to clarify the situation, but at least we're going to have a re-elected Parliament and a government that will emerge from it, and which I hope will have the political legitimacy to move forward in the right direction", he said. (Edited by Blandine Hénault)