Engie, Neoen in Pact for 1 GW Integrated Renewable Project in France

French energy majors Engie and Neoen are collaborating to construct a 1 GW solar and storage project in south-west France.

French energy majors Engie and Neoen are collaborating to construct a 1 GW solar and storage project in south-west France. While Engie is an established Euro 60 billion giant, Neoen is a relatively new specialist power producer firm (2019 revenues Euro 253 million)that has won some big contracts recently for solar energy. One of the biggest was the recent win for a 300 MW Tesla battery (Victoria Big Battery)in Australia. It also operates the Hornsdale battery in Australia.

The project with Engie, called the Horizeo project, is planned over 1000 hectares near the town of Saucats, in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France. Interestingly, the project hopes to combine the solar park, battery storage, and allow agriculture too, besides a data centre and hydrogen electrolyser powered by the power generated. The power is also expected to be used at charging points for EV’s.

Thus, the project will not rely on a fixed energy tariff, relying instead on over-the-counter sales contracts. Or to use a term from the commodities markets, more of spot trading of its power.

For now, with the project area impinging on a Pine forest, which will require additional clearances, the firms have also promised a public debate, through the French National Commission for Public Debate. The purpose is to address issues of the local residents in the affected area, numbering less than 20,000.

Engie’s press release says the park would supply power for more than 600,000 people.

Speaking about the project, Engie renewables CEO Gwenaëlle Avice-Huet said “the Horizeo project is unique in its capacity to produce renewable energy and use it with technologies of the future on a single site. It is also ambitious for its economic model, valued through sales contracts from companies, outside the tender procedures of the state and associated grants. This is a real break with the current economic model of renewable energy in France.”

Neoen deputy CEO Paul-François Croisille said: “Horizeo is a large-scale project that will demonstrate that accelerating France’s energy transition is possible by offering competitive renewable energy directly to companies.

A project of this scale, with the many features planned, should easily cost close to Euro 1.5 billion or more when done, and will probably kick off only next year, considering the scale and issues involved.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International