As in many western economies, electricity supply is of strategic importance to France, and the subject of government attention. The electricity network is getting overloaded, and the nuclear power stations are getting old. Since nuclear power accounts for around 85% of electricity generated in France, this is a problem.
So the government has put some incentives in place for people to install electric solar panels on their roofs. There are various incentives: a tax credit of up to 8,000 Euros against the expense for an individual domestic installation of less than 3Kw, a guarantee to buy the electricity generated at about 8 times the normal price, and recently, the government has removed the need for planning permission to install panels on the roof.
Locally installed solar electricity generators offer a double benefit: they reduce the total demand on the grid, and also reduce the losses incurred in distribution (currently around 50%) since the electricity generated is consumed locally.
The grange here has a huge roof, aligned at 210 degrees (West of South), with a pitch of 40 degrees. This is not ideal (ideal is due South with a pitch of 30 degrees) but anyway, I hate to see all that energy going to waste as the sun bakes the slates. I was at a car boot sale the other day, and a guy had a pitch there flogging electric solar panels, so I thought I'd take a look.
Bottom line is that an installation on the grange roof should generate nearly 10,000 Euros' worth of electricity per year, at a price (assuming I can claim back the VAT) of about 90,000 Euros. The payback period of ten years, allowing for a bit of slack and/or perhaps the cost of a loan, is right on the edge of what I might consider viable. I will do some more research before I decide to do anything drastic, I think.
And if you, dear reader, have anything to add to my thoughts, please feel free to let me know: your own experiences, those of friends and neighbours, rumours, stories, all would be welcome. Thank you in anticipation.