* Onshore wind capacity to more than double by 2023
* French solar capacity to nearly triple by 2023
* No nuclear plant closures planned before 2019
By Geert De Clercq
PARIS, April 15 (Reuters) - A French industry body on Friday increased draft government targets for onshore wind energy capacity ahead of their final publication.
In coming weeks, the government will publish a decree with targets for renewable energy capacity, which will implement broad targets set in France’s energy transition law and will give firms like EDF and Engie as well as smaller and foreign players clarity about future tender volumes.
The energy law - voted last summer - specifies that 40 percent of French power production should come from renewables by 2030, while the share of nuclear should fall from the current 75 percent to 50 percent by 2025. The trajectory towards these targets is set by decree.
The Conseil Superieur de l’Energie (CSE), a consultative industry body, on Friday approved by a large majority targets to boost onshore wind capacity from an estimated 15,000 megawatts (MW) end 2018 to as much as 25,000 MW by 2023, according to a document seen by Reuters. An earlier draft called for 23,300 MW.
“The project adopted today will allow us to more than double French onshore wind capacity by 2023 and triple the photovoltaic capacity,” renewable energy lobby SER said in a statement.
For offshore wind, the CSE approved targets to boost capacity to 3000 MW by end 2023 from an estimated 500 MW end 2018, but left unchanged a target for another 3,000 MW worth of projects awarded by then. SER had wanted to quadruple the offshore target.
For photovoltaic solar, the CSE approved a target of up to 20,200 MW by end 2023 from an estimated 10,200 MW end 2018. It also approved slightly higher targets for hydropower, a mature industry in France, for up to 26,050 MW by 2023.
End 2015, France had installed onshore wind capacity of 10,312 MW, no offshore wind capacity, solar PV capacity of 6,191 MW and hydropower capacity of 25,421 MW, according to grid operator RTE.
Last year, 18.7 percent of French power consumption was generated by renewables, including hydropower, which accounted for 11.4 percent.
In a TV interview Thursday evening, President Francois Hollande confirmed he wanted the share of nuclear to fall to 50 percent by 2025 but also said that no reactors would be closed during his mandate, which ends May 2017. He said the first reactor, in Fessenheim, would close from 2019.
The CSE also approved modest targets of a few 100 MW for nascent renewable energy technologies such as floating offshore wind, geothermal electricity, and biogas. (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)