The pending electric vehicle transition is all set to offer on-site self-consumption to the already compelling business case for solar carports, says French renewables developer Neoen.
April 15, 2019
Covering 12.5 hectares and 4,600 industrial parking bays, the installation is the largest carport project built in a country that has long championed solar in urban landscapes and continues a growing international trend of installing PV over parking spaces.
â€śSolar carports are growing in popularity and scale,â€ť said Juliette Moutarlier, project manager at Neoen. â€śThey are notably being adopted by logistics centers and car park operators who benefit from a greener image, local energy production and a new source of income.â€ť
The Corbas project cost â‚¬19.1 million and took just five months to build. It is selling 19.5 GWh of electricity per year to the grid at a â‚¬0.102/kWh feed-in-tariff set by the French government.
Xavier Barbaro, managing director of Neoen, said generation costs for the Corbas carport are around 50% higher than for ground mounted PV but that the difference is largely offset by savings on electricity transmission rates.
â€śYou can produce electricity at something like â‚¬80-90/MWh with a solar carport, compared to around â‚¬50â€‘60/MWh for a ground mounted array,â€ť said Barbaro, â€śbut donâ€™t forget that you are also saving along the lines of â‚¬30/MWh on grid costs.â€ť
The Neoen MD added, the challenge to self-consuming electricity from carports is that there is no on-site demand for 16.3 MW of power. However, with electric vehicles being rolled out, he sees that situation changing.
Another key advantage of solar carports is that they do not change the use of the land on which they are installed. â€śThis is important in France, where regulators and the public are particularly sensitive to the integration of PV in the landscape,â€ť said Neoenâ€™s Moutarlier, adding it makes sense to install solar in built-up and naturally degraded sites.
â€śGround mounted solar in some parts of the countryside is already meeting opposition but we so far have never heard anyone complain about installing a solar panel on their car park,â€ť she said.
By Benedict Oâ€™Donnell.