Located in Ségala-Limargue, Tenesol has installed PV systems across 188 agricultural buildings, belonging to 109 individual farmers. According to the company, the project has a capacity of 6.9 megawatts (MW) peak, and was completed within 18 months. It is said to be one of the largest collective energy developments in the country.
Delivered on a turnkey basis, the systems cover 52,500 square meters and incorporate 31,000 Tenesol PV modules. It is capable of producing 7.2 MW hours of electricity per year, and is expected to deliver average annual revenues of 1.2 million over 20 years.
The news comes after a survey in December, carried out by Farming Futures and Solarcentury, revealed that there is a trend across Europe, where feed-in tariffs have been successful in encouraging farmers, amongst others, to diversify production with on-roof solar energy.
"The economic impact of this project on both the farmers and region has been very significant," says Laurent Causse, head of the energy department at Sicaseli. "By taking on an additional role as an energy producer, farmers can expect to earn significant revenue while the region benefits from investment and economic development as a result of the net profit this program generates. This project is a great example of how farming communities and renewable energy can work together to benefit all."
The project was inaugurated at the end of last October, while the first installation was connected to the local electricity grid in December. According to Tenesol, the average build time for a 300 meter square system on the project was one week. Around 25 different buildings were worked on at any one time by a mix of Tenesol and Sicaseli employees.
To raise financing, a dedicated joint-stock company called Ségala Agriculture et Energie Solaire (SAES) was established. SAES reportedly allowed the farmers to work together and secure the most advantageous finance package. Ultimately a pool incorporating six different financial institutions gathered the 34 million required for the project.
"The Sicaseli project is a perfect example of how the farming community can act collectively to produce a large-scale PV system that not only benefits those involved but an entire region," concludes Tenesol CEO, Benoit Rolland.