French energy supplier builds 10 MW solar aviary


From pv magazine France

The solar strategy of French power producer Unite, adopted in 2020, is starting to bear fruit. The developer has started to build a 10 MW solar project on a pheasant farm in Brinon-sur-Sauldre, in France's Centre-Val-de-Loire region.

The project, developed in just five months and awarded a tender by the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) in September 2022, is scheduled to commence operations in July 2024, generating 11 GWh of electricity per year.

“The objective was to create a complete cover to prevent the penetration of migratory birds which could bring diseases,” said Stéphane Maureau, associate general director of Unite, in an interview with pv magazine France. “This hangar is partly covered by photovoltaic frames and the rest with conventional nets.”

The structures and solar module spacing for the 10-hectare deployment are customized to meet the specific requirements of breeder Régis Clément.

“The sun/shade ratio has also been optimized to improve animal comfort depending on the season,” said Maureau, noting that the farmer will pay for the electricity between €95 ($101.4)/MWh and €105/MWh.

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Unite originally specialized in the development of small hydraulic power plants. “This activity gives us a valuable territorial anchor because we have been present for decades in the regions and local residents know us,” said Maureau. “However, given the increasingly significant constraints imposed on projects on French rivers, we have decided to continue our activity in small hydroelectricity, but at a less sustained pace. We will build one power plant per year, so as not to lose our know-how, and at the same time, we are making a real change of scale in solar.”

The company has secured land for at least 800 MW/year with over 60 solar projects in development, totaling 1.2 GW, including 150 MW with building permits.

“We work on large installations of 20 MW to 30 MW on average on the ground or in buildings,” specified Maureau.

The company, which owns 47 hydraulic power plants, 5 wind farms, and 16 solar installations, aims to reach 1 GW of PV capacity by 2027, with an annual growth target of approximately 800 MW.

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