Yingli to supply 300 MW Neoen PV plant in France

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Yingli Green Energy agreed to supply 120 MW of solar panels to independent French power producer Neoen’s 300 MW solar park in South West France.

Yingli will ship more than 393,000 YGE 72 Cell solar panels between December and June and comprise more than a third of the overall solar park, which will cover 250 hectares (618 acres) of land divided in 25 solar plants. The modules will be mounted in an east-west orientation to boost the system’s overall power density given their layout, according to Yingli.

The installation is expected to be Europe’s largest solar photovoltaic energy park when completed. Located in the town of Cestas, near Bordeaux, the project is budgeted at more than €360 million.

Neoen will own 120 MW while eight other investors will own the remaining 180 MW.

Construction of each power plant will be performed by a consortium that includes local companies Eiffage-Clemessy, Schneider Electric and Krinner, which will also be responsible for operation and maintenance activities.

The solar park, which will be connected directly to the high voltage grid, is expected to begin operation in October 2015. It will produce more than 350 gigawatt-hours annually — the equivalent of the entire power consumption of the population of Bordeaux.

Praising Yingli’s reliability, project director Patrick de Labrusse of Eiffage-Clemessy said, "One important step for a project of such immense proportions is to gain the trust of investors and banks, which involves choosing the right partners."

Cost of Cestas solar energy cheaper than Hinkley Point C nuclear energy

Yingli noted that Neoen had "worked hard on multiple system optimizations and plant design in order to increase the project’s profitability and competitiveness." As a result, Yingli added, the plant will provide electricity at €105 ($130) per megawatt hour — below the price of the electricity that will be generated by the United Kingdom’s planned new nuclear power plant.

France’s EDF, which is building Britain’s new Hinkley Point C nuclear project in Somerset, England, has secured a guarantee from the British government for a minimum price of £92.50 pounds (€117/$145) per megawatt hour generated by the plant for a period of 35 years. The nuclear power plant is scheduled to be completed in 2023.

Both the European PV industry and leading environmental protection advocates have criticized the Hinkley project.

"By driving down the cost of solar electricity, the project clearly demonstrates the increasing competitiveness of solar PV against traditional energy sources," Yingli stressed.

‘Reaching grid parity is a reality now’

Yingli Chairman and CEO Liansheng Miao added, "We are honored to be part of this milestone project in the European PV market, and to be delivering a promising model that is driven by profitability and cost-competitiveness rather than dependence on public incentives. Reaching grid parity is a reality now and we are pleased to partner with innovative European companies such as Neoen and Eiffage-Clemessy – they set a high standard and work hard every day to build a low-carbon economy across Europe."