In the Hérault, a first floating farm of photovoltaic panels launched

This is a first in France: the first two units of a floating panel farm photovoltaic have just been launched, in the open sea, off Sète (Hérault). A project that is part of the buoyant dynamism of the solar sector : “Offshore photovoltaic has enormous potential since we can deploy gigafarms, which are more competitive and less expensive than onshore solar or wind power”explained for the occasion Armand Thiberge, president and co-founder of the company Solarinblue, at theAFP.

“In Sète, we will occupy an area” which previously corresponded to “the former hydrocarbon unloading station at sea”, added the manager, pointing out that this installation had been facilitated by the Occitanie region. Each unit making up the floating farm is located 1.5 km from the breakwater, and consists of a steel structure supporting photovoltaic modules at a height of 3.5 m above the surface of the water.

300 kilowatts by 2024

Thanks to an electric actuator, the platforms are able to follow the course of the solar star in the sky. While each of the units rests on floats, the entire farm is anchored to the bottom of the water by four anchor points. A technology, however, different from that already used for solar farms on the surface of French lakes: “Our structures can withstand swells of 10 meters deep and winds of 200 km/h”said Armand Thiberge.

The first two units having been installed, the rest of the plant should be launched gradually, to eventually reach an area of ​​half a hectare by the end of the year. In terms of production, Solarinblue is aiming for 300 kilowatts by 2024, in order to supply, via an undersea cable, port infrastructure and in particular a fish factory, as well as ferries in transit.

Living with the parks wind turbines maritime

Already reinforced by constantly increasing connection and production figures, the solar sector confirms with this project that it is firing on all cylinders to achieve the national objectives of energetic transition. In France, the maximized scenario of RTE (the manager of the high voltage electricity network, editor’s note) is 200 gigawatts of solar to be installed by 2050recalled Armand Thiberge. “We will not achieve this objective if we do not invest the seafronts”added the regional director of theAdeme (Ecological Transition Agency), Camille Fabre.

The total cost of the floating farm off Sète amounts to 2.5 million euros, half of the sum being advanced by public actors, in this case Ademe and the Evolen association, specialized in support for companies in the energy sector. On the environmental level, the conclusions of an impact study carried out upstream affirmed that “The marine species present on the site will be little impacted” and “the risk of disruption [des oiseaux] can be considered weak.

This first in France should also quickly be emulated since 23 other projects of the same type are planned by the end of the year. In addition, these photovoltaic gigafarms could eventually coexist with offshore wind farms. “A colocation would be relevant, if only to pool the costs of the electricity production transmission cable”believes Armand Thiberge. Late in the development of its renewable energy production capacities (ENR)France is trying to move up a gear in this area, as evidenced by the recent enactment of a dedicated law.

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