The photovoltaic installation process and the behaviour of photovoltaic producers in insular contexts: the French island example (Corsica, Reunion Island, Guadeloupe)

  • Sophie Bouly de Lesdain
Original Article


This article presents and discusses the results of a study of small photovoltaic (PV) producers in the context of energy production on non-interconnected French islands (Corsica, Guadeloupe, Reunion Island). We analyse the propensity of islanders to install photovoltaic panels and to change their energy-consumption habits, i.e. to reduce their use of energy or to allow the electricity grid to manage their batteries. This meant interviewing them about their willingness to shift from the role of consumer to that of “prosumer”. The analysis is part of the sociotechnical approach which suggests that decentralised production encourages people to change their attitudes towards energy when they produce it themselves. It is based on interviews (47) and on questionnaires (142) submitted to PV producers who sell their entire production (full sale) or their surplus after self-consumption to Electricité de France (EDF) and who own a storage battery. We find that the interviewees’ representations of the electricity grid and locally used energies were marked by the insular nature of their land. Due to the power cuts and the voltage variations that they endure on a daily basis, the interviewees are fully aware of their island’s limited production capacity. The producers we met aspire to a level of comfort that conflicts with their awareness of the limits of the local production system. Our findings indicate that the fact of becoming a PV electricity producer is a response to a common desire for energy autonomy (in relation to fossil fuels, power cuts or electricity bills). This reaching for autonomy is not the same as a desire to break away from the electricity grid. It provides the opportunity to redefine the role of PV producers in tomorrow’s electricity system. This observation calls for comparative studies in order to determine whether these results are tied to insular contexts or if they can be extended elsewhere.


Photovoltaic Insularity Renewable and green energy Domestic electricity Behaviour Demand-side management 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EDF R&DPalaiseauFrance

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