ENGIE and Neoen to Build a €1bn solar-storage plant near Bordeaux, France

Dubbed ‘Horizeo’ the complex will also include a 10MW electrolyser for making green hydrogen and a data centre.

 

Utility company Engie and renewable energy producer Neoen are planning to build a 1GW/40MW solar-storage facility in Southeast France. Located in Nouvelle-Aquitaine near Bordeaux, the solar-storage complex will also include a 10MW electrolyser to produce green hydrogen and a data centre.

Dubbed ‘Horizeo’, the project is a stepping stone towards France’s target of 18-21GW of photovoltaic capacity by 2023. Nouvelle-Aquitaine has its own target of developing 8.5GW capacity by 2030. The French government has been pursuing energy auctions as a way to achieve its photovoltaic capacity goals. Last October, the Ministry of Ecological Transition guaranteed tariff support to solar projects of 341MW. A record-breaking number of PPAs have also been signed in France recently. Corporate contracts enable energy manufacturers to run profitable businesses independently from the government. France was among the top 10 markets for PPAs in 2019.

However, Horizeo will sell electricity directly to its industrial customers. By avoiding tenders from the Energy Regulatory Commission it will eliminate the need for government subsidies. Paul-François Croisille, Deputy CEO of Neoen believes that this approach of offering “competitive renewable energy directly to companies” could potentially fast-forward France’s transition to cleaner energy.

Although it has the support of the French government, Horizeo has not been without controversy. The project is estimated to require around 1000 hectares of land, intended to be acquired by large-scale deforestation. Recently Berlin witnessed huge protests and public hearings when close to 200 hectares of pine forest was cut down to build a Tesla car and battery factory. Although Europe has been at the forefront of sustainable industry projects, deforestation for their construction has been widely opposed. Anticipating resistance, France’s National Commission for Public Debate has announced that it will organise a public hearing for the citizens of Saucats. Engie’s Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Renewables, Gwenaëlle Avice-Huet said: “We are committed to carrying out an exemplary project in terms of environmental and societal approach. The upcoming public debate will allow us, in particular, to enrich and feed all the components of the project.”