Is it true that France has one of the lowest densities of photovoltaic panels in Europe? – Liberation

Is it true that France has one of the lowest densities of photovoltaic panels in Europe?  – Liberation
Widely broadcast on social networks, the map shows the photovoltaic installations on the old continent, where France is one of the European countries with the least facilities in this area. It is actually a collaborative mapping project that does not reflect the actual capacity established in France.

Internet users bemoaning the low use of renewable energies in France have widely shared a diagram on social networks to illustrate their point. In this image, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy or the UK are covered in red areas – reflecting the density of installed photovoltaic panels – while other countries such as France or Portugal appear surprisingly empty.

Where does this map come from? She is drawn Scientific article published in the journal November 2020 Scientific data Relates to the mapping of the United Kingdom’s photovoltaic network. The figure does not represent installed capacity in Europe, but lists it “Photovoltaic solar panels openly reported on OpenStreetMap, May 2020”, A collaborative online mapping project. “Note the considerable variation between countries, due to specific mapping efforts in national communities: for example, the relatively low density in France does not reflect the established capacity of that country”Researchers point out.

Therefore, this map cannot provide information about the state of the network of photovoltaic solar panels in France.

The authors of the study generally, “Official and Public Sources [sur l’implantation des panneaux photovoltaïques] There are significant shortcomings: spatial inaccuracy, gaps in coverage and lack of important metadata, especially for small-scale PV solar panel installations.”

Their paper therefore presents the results of a participatory mapping campaign in the United Kingdom “Aims to create open geographic data for 260,000 PV installations in the UK, 86% of the country’s capacity”. They pay attention “Small-scale domestic solar photovoltaic production, which represents a significant portion of production but has so far been poorly documented”. The authors estimate UK grid capacity at 13.93 GW in November 2020. However, possible methodological errors Mentioned by Internet usersEven if the panels do not cover the entire floor, such as the extrapolation of the power of the installation according to the surface of the floor where the panels are installed.

In France, the power of grid-connected photovoltaic solar parks reached 10.9 GW, according to statistics from the Ministry of Sustainable Development. End of December 2020 (See diagram below) and 11.5GW By the end of March 2021. However, this theoretical power does not predetermine the amount of electricity actually produced, which obviously depends on the amount of sunlight.


Create a map of the density of installations in Europe based on the sample taken from the survey Scientific data, faces many difficulties. First, in a country like France, public data do not accurately identify the location of small installations. This is a question that determines from which production ranges installations appear on the map (and whether or not the diversity of small domestic installations is clearly distinguished from larger and more productive installations.

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