Volkswagen and energy giant Engie have commissioned a 20 MW photovoltaic installation above a parking lot in northern France. The solar canopy consists of two equal-sized units, covering a total of 15 hectares.
A solar canopy spanning 15 hectares, was commissioned by Volkswagen Group France (VGF), the French subsidiary of the German car manufacturer. The project was fully executed and financed by Engie Green, a subsidiary of French energy group Engie that specializes in renewables.
The facility covers a parking area for 6,500 vehicles
The photovoltaic plant’s peak capacity is 20 MW. It is located at Volkswagen’s headquarters in France, in the Hauts-de-France region in the northern part of the country. The solar canopy covers the space for 6,500 vehicles.
The facility, comprising 50,000 solar panels, is worth EUR 20 million. Interestingly, a total of EUR 3 million was raised for the project through two crowdfunding campaigns to attract small investors, with 342 individuals contributing, mostly from Hauts-de-France.
Engie Green will maintain and manage the solar power plant for the next 32 years.
It is the thirteenth facility of its kind that Engie Green has implemented in France. The company said it has installed overhead solar power panels on 200 hectares so far.
All large car parks in France will be covered with solar panels
The new law on renewable energy production in France has given the segment an additional push. It mandates that all existing and new car parks with space for at least 80 vehicles must be equipped with solar panels.
Parking lot owners with 80 to 400 spaces have five years to comply with the measures, while those that can fit more vehicles have a three-year deadline. At least half of the surface area of these car parks must be covered with solar panels.
French authorities estimated that overhead photovoltaic plants on parking lots could contribute 11 GW to the country’s electricity capacity, equivalent to 10 nuclear power plants.
Solar car parks can provide electricity and charging stations for electric vehicles and supply power for surrounding facilities
Car parks, along with building façades and rooftops, have significant potential for smaller photovoltaic systems. Their advantage is that they provide protection for cars from rain, snow, and excessive sunlight, reducing the need for vehicle cooling. Additionally, solar car parks can generate electricity and provide charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, and supply power to nearby buildings.
As for Southeastern Europe, Slovenia has recently adopted a law that streamlines procedures and regulates spatial planning and permitting for renewables, primarily for wind parks and solar power plants. It allows the installation of photovoltaic systems on the roofs of larger buildings, in the vicinity of energy infrastructure, along roads and railways, on closed landfills and quarries, as well as on parking lots.