ENGIE and NEOEN, both committed to energy transition in the regions and leaders in the renewable energy sector, are joining forces to develop HORIZEO, a large-scale renewable energy production project based on a new-concept low-carbon energy platform in Saucats, in the Gironde.
The project is led by ENGIE, NEOEN, the electrical grid manager RTE, and Saucats town hall. In December last year, all the actors referred the project to the National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP), which decided to organise a public consultation to allow the entire region to take part in developing HORIZEO.
The project aims to develop a new model of renewable energy production, with both technical and economic innovation and respect for the environment at the heart of its development.
It consists of a 1 GW photovoltaic farm, producing electricity equivalent to the annual consumption of more than 600,000 people, combined with complementary technological building blocks. These include local production and consumption of renewable energy using batteries for electricity storage, a green hydrogen production unit targeting individual and collective regional mobility in particular, a data centre, and an area combining farming and photovoltaic electricity production.
HORIZEO is a project on an unprecedented scale that contributes to achieving the energy transition goals set by France. In the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, the aim is to reach 8.5 GW of photovoltaic energy production by 2030, compared with the current 2 GW. This project alone would represent more than 15% of this regional target. These highly ambitious goals constitute real challenges that ENGIE and NEOEN are now ready to take up, alongside territorial players.
The energy produced by the photovoltaic farm will be sold under negotiated electricity sales contracts, i.e. outside the tender process organised by the French energy regulator (CRE), and hence without recourse to public support mechanisms. ENGIE and NEOEN thus intend to demonstrate that photovoltaic solar energy is now sufficiently mature, reliable and competitive to ensure direct supply of electricity to industrial users. The local production of renewable and competitive energy will also allow the development of an electrolyser and a data centre powered directly by the photovoltaic farm, a first in France.
Given the scale of the project, close attention is being paid to its environmental effects, particularly on the forest environment. The project, covering an area of approximately 1000 hectares, comes within an area of fenced private plots dedicated to maritime pine production, and currently used by two private hunts. The impact on forestry dealt with through a set of regulatory, administrative and technical procedures, will be subject to environmental authorisation. This will include authorisation for clearance, associated with compensatory reafforestation over a larger area. These data will be the subject of discussions with the forestry sector and the general public.
ENGIE and NEOEN welcomed the decision taken by the CNDP on 2 December 2020 to organise a public debate, a step that will allow collective thinking on a scale consistent with the project’s challenges. This procedure will guarantee transparency, as well as a broad expression of opinion by the region and the public, in bringing the shared project to the best fruition possible.
“The HORIZEO project is unprecedented and innovative in terms of its renewable energy production capacity and it goes much further by combining, on a single site, some technologies of the future. It is also an ambitious project for its business model, in which the energy produced will be sold through electricity sales contracts negotiated with companies, outside the State tender process with its associated subsidies. This is a real break with the current business model for renewable energies in France. We are also committed to carrying out a project that is exemplary in its environmental and societal approach. The forthcoming public debate will allow us, in particular, to enrich and nourish all the project’s components.”
Gwénaëlle Avice-Huet, ENGIE’s Executive Vice President in charge of renewable energies
“HORIZEO is a large-scale project intended to demonstrate that it is possible to speed up the energy transition in France by offering competitive renewable energy directly to companies. This project is designed as a true low-carbon energy platform, combining mature solar energy with ambitious technological innovations, such as electricity storage batteries. Our priority is to integrate this project into the characteristics of the region, from an ecological, societal and economic point of view. In keeping with the unprecedented scale of the project, the public debate will allow all local players and the general public to be involved as widely as possible, to develop all its potential for the benefit of the region.”
Paul-François Croisille, Deputy CEO of NEOEN
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