47,000 solar panels on a lake: the first floating photovoltaic power station inaugurated in France


The first photovoltaic floating plant in France and the most powerful in Europe is inaugurated this Friday in Piolenc in the Vaucluse.

Already operational in recent weeks, this plant will be able to produce 100% renewable energy to supply electricity to 4,733 households, or nearly 10,000 people.

Until now the municipality of Piolenc was known for its feast of garlic. In fact, Louis Driey, his mayor wondered what he could do with his artificial lake of 50 hectares on an old quarry. The banks were too dangerous to make a pole of attraction and recreation.

It was then that a somewhat crazy idea sprouted up about ten years ago. Cover this stretch of water with solar panels to create a floating photovoltaic power plant.

47,000 floating solar panels

"When we started this project, it was a world first to put photovoltaic panels on the water," says Louis Driey, the mayor of Piolenc. And to add: "France did not believe it, the Chinese took it and it took Akuo Energy and Heaven and Earth to install all over the world for the French to believe. "

The project was carried out by Bouygues Energies Services for green energy producer Akuo Energy, supplier of the 47,000 floating solar panels that have been assembled. It has many advantages.

"Floating solar does not leave marks in the soil in the long term, it does not generate water pollution. Over the years, the fish will settle there, the fauna and flora develop, "adds the town's elect.

But above all, thanks to the sun's rays on the water, the efficiency of these 30 kg solar panels is higher than what happens on earth. "The water can cool the panels and improve by 5 to 10% the performance compared to conventional solar panels," says Nicolas Maccioni, director of public affairs of Akuo.

This project, despite the administrative bottlenecks encountered during its elaboration, quickly seduced residents to make this municipality of Vaucluse, one of the first cities with positive energy.

A crowdfunding campaign was also set up in the commune and in the surrounding area to raise one million euros.

In addition, the leaders of Akuo put forward a development project of this territory. Three hectares of land around the lake will be devoted to organic farming, dedicated to market gardening and school canteens. An educational path will also be created.

The town will rent its lake to the operator 25,000 euros per year. In addition, the electricity produced will be sold to the alternative energy supplier Plum Energie, which specializes in renewable energy at a price of 62.50 euros per kWh (thanks to state support), ie half the amount expensive than the nuclear electricity that will be produced by the EPR Flamanville …

Potential equivalent to 10 nuclear power plants

This technology is starting to build in France while 160 projects are already developed around the world, particularly in Asia.

"We are proposing a new alternative, as it is increasingly difficult to find land to develop renewable energy. Floating solar can find its place in areas modified by man but which are now unused and therefore without conflict with other uses, especially agricultural, "says Akuo Energy, which estimates this" reserve "in France would produce near 10 gigawatts, more or less, the production of 10 nuclear power plants.

Several projects are being created. In April, Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR) installed 630 photovoltaic panels in Mornant, on Lake Madone, in the heart of the Lyonnais mountains. On the Lazer reservoir, in the Hautes-Alpes, EDF was selected by the Ministry of Ecological Transition for the construction of a floating solar power station.

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