The projects to be supplied by SunPower are owned by La Compagnie du Vent, a subsidiary of French energy giants Engie. SunPower says that it will manufacture a significant proportion of the modules at its facilities in France.
SunPower has previously supplied La Compagnie du Vent with 45 MW of modules for projects currently operating. “Since 2012, La Compagnie du Vent has been a valued SunPower partner,” said SunPower Executive Vice President Eduardo Medina. “We are pleased to supply additional solar panels that will deliver power for homes and businesses in France.”
First Solar was chosen by French developer Photosol to supply the projects located in central and southwestern France. The 14 individual projects range from 4.5 to 43 MW, amounting to a total capacity of 106.5 MW. Once completed, the plants will bring First Solar’s total installed capacity across Europe to roughly 4.5 GW. Photosol owns the projects, with Portuguese engineering firm Jayme da Costa Group set to provide EPC services.
“As France continues to drive a sustained renewable energy program to reliably address its energy needs, we see a huge opportunity for utility-scale solar to make a significant contribution by delivering reliable and affordable clean electricity,” said Photosol Managing Director David Guinard. “Our decision to select First Solar’s thin film modules was not only driven by cost competitiveness and proven performance advantage, but also by the significant environmental benefits that its module technology offers.
The French tender process for PV projects is unique in that it takes into account criteria such as degree of innovation, sustainability and carbon footprint, while most other countries simply focus on price. This gives manufacturers such as First Solar and SunPower – both of which were named as industry leaders in a 2016 report from IHS – significant advantage, given their high efficiency products and efforts at sustainable production.
“The French policy on reducing the carbon footprint of its solar energy program has set a new benchmark for other countries to follow, said Stefan Degener, Regional Head of Business Development at First Solar. “It is a clear demonstration of how evaluating the environmental footprint can be effectively embedded in a competitive bidding process. We thank both Photosol and Jayme da Costa for their continued confidence in First Solar and our technology.”