Solar park in Cestas near Bordeaux (Gironde – France)

The project was built by a consortium led by Eiffage and Schneider Electric. It is currently managed by NEOEN – an independent producer of sustainable energy. NEOEN has been building on its experience in the renewable energy sector with solar, wind and biomass projects in France and Portugal since 2008.

The project is one of the largest solar photovoltaic power plants in Europe with a total nameplate capacity of 300 megawatt-peak (MWp). It is connected to the national power grid, managed by RTE, the French transmission system operator.

The solar power plant spans an area of 265 ha located 20 km south-west of Bordeaux, close to the village of Cestas. An area equal to the one occupied by this park has been reforested in the Gironde. The solar panels have been in operation since November 2015.

The rationale for EIB intervention was in the project’s valuable contribution to (i) EU and national objectives in generating renewable energy, (ii) increasing the security of the energy supply, and (iii) mitigating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation.

The project was the first photovoltaic project financed by the EIB in Europe which demonstrated its competitiveness both in economic and financial terms against a conventional alternative, namely a combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant.

The financing of the project involved a loan from the EIB of EUR 56 million, which at project completion represented 16% of the total project cost (EUR 352.08 million). The loan was intermediated through a French financial intermediary as an allocation under a larger framework loan from the EIB (France Energies Renouvelables).

During its first year of operation, the park generated 343 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity. The project’s long-term expected average electricity output is about 355 GWh/a – enough to supply electricity to nearly 70 500 households (using the latest available World Energy Council data on average electricity consumption of electrified households in France, i.e. 5 036 kWh per year).