Solar-powered trains propel France’s dormant PPA scene

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email
Supply to SNCF's trains will come via three plants in southern France, set for commissioning between 2022 and 2023 (Credit: Flickr / Gerard - Nicolas Mannes)

French trains will be backed by utility-scale solar under a power purchase agreement (PPA), hailed as a major boost to the country’s still embryonic subsidy-free market.

Developer Voltalia has inked a 25-year deal to supply French state-run railway group SNCF via a new 143MW PV pipeline, set to be commissioned between 2022 and 2023.

Three solar plants will be built and owned by Voltalia in the southeastern departments of Gard and Var, Voltalia explained in a statement alongside SNCF this week.

The trio is designed to generate an annual 200GWh, equal to the needs of 40,000 households and enough to sustain 3-4% of SNCF’s train operations by 2022-2023.

The renewable PPA is the first of a series for the railway group, with PPA talks underway with other parties to contract six to seven times more power than this initial 143MW.  

Tailwinds for French subsidy-free

Matthias Emmerich, deputy CEO of SNCF Mobilités, said four factors make the deal “unprecedented”: its 143MW volume, its 25-year term, its prices “well below” market averages and the boost it marks for French PV.

The country remains Europe’s fourth largest PV market – at 9.4GW in 2018, according to IRENA – but has proved slower in embracing subsidy-free solar, with deployment still largely driven by auctions and subsidies.

Neighbouring Germany is similarly lagging behind with corporate PPAs. The country is home to a far larger industry but faces an uncertain outlook as the sector braces for a subsidy rollback and continued land restrictions.

For Voltalia, the PPA milestone emerges as the firm lines up funding to take its portfolio to 2.6GW by 2023. The developer is working towards the goal via its own developments in France and abroad but also purchases of other firms, including Martifer Solar.

Read Next

June 15, 2021
Everwood Capital and the Prodiel Group have combined to create DVP Solar, a joint-venture (JV) focused on developing large-scale international photovoltaic projects, with gigawatts at various stages of development.
June 4, 2021
Statkraft has completed what it claims to be Albania’s first floating solar plant, energising a 500kW, first phase install at the base of a hydropower project on the country’s Banja reservoir.
June 1, 2021
Almost two thirds of people working in the solar industry expect to see double-digit sales growth this year, according to initial findings from a Global Solar Council survey.
June 1, 2021
Lightsource BP has said it won more than 40% of the total awarded capacity in Greece’s renewables auction last week through a co-development partnership, increasing its global presence to 14 countries.
May 31, 2021
Solar PV bidders picked up all the available 350MW of capacity in Greece’s latest renewables auction, which took place on 24 May and closed with lower prices than the country's previous tenders.
May 28, 2021
BP-backed renewables group Lightsource BP is set to invest €900 million (US$1.1 billion) in solar company INSUN to fund the development of five utility-scale solar projects across Portugal.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events
July 6, 2021
Solar Media Events
August 24, 2021
Solar Media Events, Upcoming Webinars
October 6, 2021