Engie and Heliatek launch ‘world’s largest’ OPV system on French school roof

The OPV film installed does not require piecing the roof nor strengthening of the roof structures. Credit: Engie

French power giant Engie has inaugurated the world's largest organic photovoltaic (OPV) system on a roof at a school in France, using Heliatek's technology.

The 530m2 roof of the Pierre Mendès-France secondary school, in La Rochelle, is now covered with HeliaSol OPV technology, following a tender launch by the Charente-Maritime Department.

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The OPV film installed does not require piercing the roof nor strengthening of the roof structures. It will generate 23.8MWh of electricity each year, enough to power 15-20% of the school’s power needs.

This experimental project seeks to open the door to longer term and large-scale development of OPV technology, which is suitable for lightweight, flat and curved roofs, where traditional solar panels are hard to install. It is both quick to install and easy to recycle, said an Engie statement.

Engie has held a stake in Heliatek since 2016, which it also claims to hold the world record for OPV with a conversion efficiency of 13.2%.

Isabelle Kocher, CEO of ENGIE, said: “Renewable energies are an essential part of our strategy, based on a decarbonised, decentralised and digitised world. And half of all energy consumption comes from the building sector. For them, solar energy is increasingly an opportunity and, thanks to OPV technologies, buildings which up to now were unable to benefit from the advantages of photovoltaic energy will now be able to use it. Our partnership with Heliatek allows us to play our full role as supplier of the best solution tailored to each customer.”

Thibaud Le Séguillon, CEO of Heliatek, said: “Thanks to HeliaSol technology, lightweight structures which cannot be fitted with conventional photovoltaic panels will now be able to produce green electricity.”

The National Education service through the Poitiers education district for the Mendès-France school was also a partner on the project. Educational kits developed by the ENGIE teams will be delivered to schools in the Department to raise-awareness among the pupils of the issues surrounding solar energy and, beyond this, to energy-saving in general.

The Department also plans to fit its other 600,000m2 of roofs with more PV equipment.

Engie has already deployed Heliatek’s organic OPV thin-film technology as part of new façade at Engie's research center in Linkebeek, Belgium.

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