While Germany has spent the last few years stealing the headlines for its remarkable advances in renewable energy infrastructure, neighboring France has, up until now, remained relatively silent on the matter of green energy. But this week Paris-based company Neoen broke ground on a 300 MW, $450 million photovoltaic grid-connected installation at Cestas, which will provide power to nearby Bordeaux from October 2015—and the facility will be the largest photovoltaic power plant in Europe.
Solar capacity in France has grown exceptionally slowly; according to Reuters0 it had “5,095 MW of photovoltaic capacity in June, which accounted for only 1 percent of its energy consumption in the first half of the year,” in stark contrast with Germany’s 37,000 MW. But Neoen suggests that prudence in the early years may be key to France’s success.
While Spain, for instance, has experienced a solar “bubble,” France does not have comparable struggling or failed projects, and as such it was easier for Neoen to secure financing for this large-scale installation. And the costs for the output when it goes online look remarkably promising—it will provide electricity for 105 euros ($131.46)/MWh over 20 years.
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Speaking to Reuters0, Neoen Chief Executive Xavier Barbarom explained that the Cestas installation will provide solar power “below the price of new nuclear electricity in Britain. So the parity between nuclear energy which is costing more and solar which continues to drop is happening now, in 2014… Four or five years ago, nobody thought that would be possible before 2020”
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