Europe’s biggest solar farm opens in France, cheaper than nuclear

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Europe’s largest solar PV installation, Neoen’s 300MW Cestas plant near Bordeaux, is producing solar energy cheaper than new nuclear plants.

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PV Magazine

It was a long time in the making, but this week Europe’s largest solar PV plant was finally brought online.

The Cestas solar farm, which is 300MW and covers a 250-hectare site near to the French city of Bordeaux, was connected to the grid earlier this month and has already begun producing solar power at a price cheaper than that offered by new nuclear plants.

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Developed by Neoen for a cost of €360 million ($382 million), Cestas will see its solar energy for a price of €105/MWh ($111/MWh) for 20 years, which is on a par with wind power and cheaper than the cost of new nuclear energy, confirmed Neoen chief executive, Xavier Barbaro.

France’s older nuclear plants, built in the 1970s and ‘80s, deliver nuclear energy for around €55/MWh, but newer nuclear plants – such as the controversial Hinkley Point development in the U.K., which is being built by French utility EDF – are set to deliver energy for a government-guaranteed price of around €130/MWh.

Barbaro told reporters at the plant’s inauguration that its east-west orientation (solar farms at this latitude are usually oriented with a southern azimuth) means it can produce three-to-four times more power for the same surface area. This also means early morning and late-afternoon production is higher, mirroring more closely typical demand patterns from the French grid.


The plant is comprised of 25, 12MW sub-plants and was delivered to the grid via a consortium of largely France-based contributors, including French infrastructure company Eiffage and Schneider Electric.

At 300 MW, it is easily the continent’s largest single array, and will play its part in pushing France towards 1 GW of new solar PV installations this year, with the country on course to match that in 2016 and 2017, according to projections from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

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10 Comments
  1. Jo 3 years ago

    “… its east-west orientation … means it can produce three-to-four times more power for the same surface area. ”
    That should be enough for a Nobel price.

    • jijo 3 years ago

      Hahaha. Didn’t you mean Pulitzer, though?

    • solarguy 3 years ago

      Your right Jo, they can’t possibly get that. The best would be 30%, but it doesn’t seem to be set up to track the sun anyway.

  2. Fix 3 years ago

    Global warming is a lie.

    • Alen T 3 years ago

      It’s a conspiracy theory conceived by the UN designed to create a new world order!

      We need to brace ourselves for global cooling. Just watch, soon there will be more Polar Bears in Oz than Kangaroos.

      • Fix 3 years ago

        I live in Malaysia where it is extremely hot and humid Global cooling is good news for me.

        • Ed Norris 3 years ago

          Don’t hold your breath.

    • jijo 3 years ago

      Of course! With so many air conditioners around, the globe should be freezing pretty soon. lol

      • Fix 3 years ago

        There are over 30000 scientist in America that have sign a global warming petition saying that there is no clear scientific evidence that indicates global warming is man made. It never goes out in the press. The press only wants to report global warming enthusiast scientist when there is actually more global warming sceptics scientist.

  3. david H 3 years ago

    When Neoen chief executive, Xavier Barbaro says the sloar PV plant is producing electricity “cheaper than the cost of new nuclear energy” I am sure he is not comparing on a level playing field. Nuclear is 24/7, PV is not unless it is over-sized to include battery storage. It would be interesting to know how this comparison works out.

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