French railway operator buys 40 MW of power through solar PPA


From pv magazine France.

France’s national railway company, SNCF, has renewed its commitment to the energy transition.

When the group signed its largest green corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) last year – to buy solar electricity from 143 MW of solar capacity supplied by compatriot renewables developer Voltalia for 25 years – the rail company said it was planning to sign “six to seven times” the volume of that deal “over the next two or three years.”

SNCF has gone a step nearer that 858-1,001 MW commitment by signing a 15 to 20-year, 40 MW corporate PPA with another French renewables company – RES.

The latest deal is expected to provide around 2% of the electricity consumed by the rail group’s SNCF Voyageurs passenger train subsidiary as the parent aims to procure 40-50% of the energy needed to power its passenger trains from renewable sources by 2025.

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Cleaner trains

Christophe Fanichet, chairman and chief executive of SNCF Voyageurs, said the company’s clean energy PPAs were “part of the desire of the entire SNCF group and railway workers to offer ever more sustainable mobility thanks to cleaner trains. We are proud to contribute with this contract to the creation of additional photovoltaic solar capacity in France, which will benefit the transition of the French energy mix.”

The railway group said the power purchase deal would lead to the development of 40 MW of solar capacity in the Alpes de Haute-Provence, with dates of commercial operation set for 2021-2023.

RES chief executive Sébastien Dubois said his company “is proud to make a lasting commitment to the energy transition alongside [rail subsidiary] SNCF Energie, by allowing the construction of new solar capacities outside the tenders [held by] France’s Commission de Régulation de l’Energie.” He added: “This agreement once again demonstrates the attractiveness and competitiveness of solar energy in France. The signing of this PPA agreement is an additional step in the pursuit of our vision of a future where everyone has access to low-carbon and affordable energy. The signing with SNCF Energie is a first for RES in France and, we hope, the start of a long series to come.”

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