France's 2nd biggest solar farm opens in Vinon
You can't operate a solar farm when it's pouring. But provided you find the right shelter for your guests, you can always inaugurate it. That is what happened last Friday when, due to very bad weather, the official opening of France's second largest solar installation was moved from the farm's location on the road leading from Vinon-sur-Verdon to Ginasservis to the village hall in Vinon.
Spread over 10 hectares of pasture, the 1,860 solar panels began producing electricity on 26 February and will generate an average of 6.3 gigawatt/hours. This, emphasized Claude Cheilan, the mayor of Vinon, "is the equivalent of 120 percent of the annual electricity needs of the village's 4,000 inhabitants."
Solaire-Direct, the company that built the solar farm, invested EUR 18 million in the venture and expects a return on investment in 15 to 20 years. "What we have done here is unique and historical," said the company's president Thierry Lepercq. "Operating solar farms like the one we're inaugurating today; fitting roofs with photovoltaic installations; these are first steps toward turning electricity consumers into electricity producers."
Solar energy accounts for only 0.06 percent of all renewable energy produced in France, including hydraulic. But there is hope: solar energy is growing fast (+31 percent since 2004), and in Vinon, the younger generation is determined to make it happen. At Friday's inauguration, Inès, Mohammed, Lauris, Rémy and their friends from the local grammar school demonstrated how they had boiled an egg with a solar oven made out of shoebox—which prompted the president of Solaire-Direct to offer them a job with his company as soon as they reached the proper age.
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