BayWa r.e. inaugurated its 12 MW wind farm project Clos Neuf in the Brittany region – a flagship project in terms of citizen participation and involvement in France. Local and regional residents invested a total of €1 million into the project, contributing €500,000 as shareholders and another €500,000 as bondholders, alongside financial institution Banque des Territoires and partner Quénéa. Two third of the investors live within a radius of 10 km around the wind farm.

Beyond this financial participation, the citizen investors are directly involved in decisions regarding wind farm management during the operational phase – a first in France. Amongst other things, they will be able to take part in decisions regarding local contracts. Additionally, two representatives will be elected to sit on the extended strategic committee of the Clos Neuf project.

“A stronger involvement of local residents in the governance and economic yield of renewable projects, starting from their development phase, is a fundamental condition for their acceptability and is very important for us. Our innovative collaboration with the Banque des Territoires also provides a secure framework and reduces the risk for citizen lenders and local authorities who want to contribute to the project”, said Can Nalbantoglu, Managing Director of BayWa r.e. France.

The project encountered no opposition during its development stages, highlighting the advanced work of BayWa r.e.’s French team concerning community acceptance. BayWa r.e. and its partner Quénéa consulted and involved the residents from day one in Clos Neuf. This involved information sessions, open days and presentations to the municipal council since the project’s inception. The group of shareholders, which includes the municipality of Merdrignac, will benefit from the economic yield of the wind farm in proportion to their investments over its entire lifetime. The bondholders can invest a maximum amount of €10,000 per lender and benefit from an interest rate of 5% per year.

Lorenzo Palombi, Global Director of Wind Projects at BayWa r.e. commented: “Communities must be engaged every step of the way in the development of a renewable project, something we really care about at BayWa r.e. Partnering with local citizens and institutions and enabling economic and strategic participation is key ways to underline this engagement and highlight the multiple benefits green energy development can bring. A renewable energy project presents change, but beyond socio-economic benefits, it also drives a new momentum to communities and creates the dynamic we need for a more sustainable and better future for us all.”

The wind farm consists of four turbines with a total capacity of 12 MW. It will produce 26 GWh per year, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of 14,000 residents in Brittany. This will avoid 8,120 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually and contribute to France’s climate goals for 2030.

Image source: Courtesy of BayWa r.e.

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