Engie, Neoen, RTE and the Saucats municipal unit joined forces to integrate 1 GW in solar power with 40 MW of storage, a hydrogen plant, a fruit and vegetable farm and a data center. On the other hand, one thousand hectares of pine forest would need to be sacrificed for the project, called Horizeo.
A proposed investment of EUR 1 billion in the southwest of France is up for public debate. Energy companies Engie and Neoen, the country’s power transmission system operator RTE and the local authorities at the small town of Saucats are planning to build a 1 GW photovoltaic plant within their Horizeo project. At this moment it would be the biggest in Europe by far.
Horizeo, valued at EUR 1 billion, includes Neoen’s 40 MW batteries to store electricity. Engie would run a 10 MW unit for the production of hydrogen from renewable energy.
Engie plans to produce green hydrogen and operate a data center in Horizeo
The same company is responsible for a data center subproject, worth 20% of the investment and intended for digital services to businesses. It would partly be powered by the solar power plant. All in all, the proposed system has massive electricity production and consumption in one place.
Not only that but 10 to 25 hectares of the 2,000-hectare area is earmarked for a combination of photovoltaics and a fruit and vegetable farm – an agrivoltaic system.
The controversial part of the project is that the 1,000 hectares the companies said they would use is covered by pine forest. They promised to keep 50% of it and plant many more trees than they would cut down.
The partners vowed to plant many more trees than they would cut down
It will still be one of the most important issues in the six public meetings, set to be held between September 9 and December 14 in the Gironde area, where Saucats is located. The process is scheduled to end on January 9.
The solar farm alone is envisaged to span more than 900 hectares and have a lifespan of 35 years. Its expected output is equivalent to the annual power consumption of 600,000 people.
It is valued at EUR 650 million. The partners plan to start construction next year and get online in 2024. The largest solar power plant in France, Cestas, which has a capacity of 300 MW, is next to the Horizeo site.