French land management firm Veolia has unveiled plans to embark on a groundbreaking project aimed at constructing 300 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity on its landfill sites across France, underscoring the country's commitment to decarbonize its energy sector amid mounting concerns over land availability.
The ambitious initiative, spearheaded by Veolia, entails the development of 40 solar farms on landfill sites, with the first projects slated to come online in 2027. Building on its successful venture in the United Kingdom, where Veolia funded a 59MW solar farm on a landfill site in Essex, the company is poised to leverage partnerships with other firms to realize its vision, given its position as neither a solar manufacturer nor developer.
“For several months, we have been screening all our sites in order to use every appropriate space to maximize energy production,” remarked Veolia CEO Estelle Brachlianoff. Brachlianoff highlighted the synergy between the company's existing clean power projects and the potential of its landfill sites to contribute to solar energy production.
The initiative holds promise in advancing France's ambitious clean energy targets, particularly in the realm of solar energy. The latest draft updates to the country's National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) set a bold objective of adding 5.5-7 gigawatts (GW) of new solar capacity annually until the end of the decade.
Despite solar energy meeting just 4.2% of France's energy demand in 2022, achieving these targets could reshape the country's energy landscape significantly. The support of companies outside the traditional energy sector, such as Veolia, may prove instrumental in realizing these goals.
Moreover, Veolia's endeavor seeks to address a pressing challenge in France – a “significant land shortage” exacerbated by arduous permitting processes and limited land availability for human development, including energy projects. This innovative approach aims to overcome these hurdles and bolster the French solar sector's sustainability and resilience.
Veolia's ambitious solar project signals a paradigm shift in renewable energy deployment, highlighting the potential for collaboration between diverse stakeholders to drive meaningful progress towards a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.