Occitanie: SolarinBlue deploys the first offshore solar farm in France from the port of Sète

On March 17, the Montpellier company launched the first units of an offshore solar farm in the Regional Port of Sète.

The port of Sète (EPR Sud de France) inaugurated this Friday, March 17 a national first: the installation of a unit of the first offshore solar farm in France, designed by the Montpellier company SolarinBlue.

The project called Sun’Sète (€2.5 million of investment, in particular from Ademe and Evolem) has just led to the launch of a demonstrator consisting of 25 solar panels (0.5ha) from different brands, particularly Indian, mounted on a floating structure anchored using a system of helical anchors with a grip of less than 1m2 “which minimize the impact on the seabed”.

This solar “raft” will be positioned 1.5 km from the coast at the site of the former hydrocarbon unloading station at sea in Sète. Eventually, an undersea cable will carry the energy generated at sea to land.

With a power of 300 kWp, it will be able to produce electricity equivalent to the annual consumption necessary for a population of 200 people (400MWh/year). The electricity generated will be used to power the Port’s infrastructure.

“Economical and ecological”

The SolarinBlue teams will now follow the evolution of the behavior of the platform in the open sea (production, robustness and relevance of the anchors). Presented as eco-designed, both light and robust, the solar units could thus withstand a swell of more than 10 meters and winds of 200 km/h, with a lifespan of 30 years. The fruit of three years of research and development with the first tank tests in Ireland.

The SolarinBlue solar farm demonstrator was assembled in the port of Sète.

The system was designed to take modular forms of all shapes and sizes, in ports, in island mode or combined with offshore wind stations, following a light architecture in “plug & play” to facilitate its installation even in large-scale parks. “It is an economical and ecological technology in terms of design. We have reduced investment, construction and assembly and operations and reduced operating costs for commercial projects”, summarizes Antoine Retailleau, co-founder of SolarinBlue and director of operations. The module would be 45% recyclable (treated steel and high density polyethylene floats). About thirty companies participated in the design of the project in Occitania.

“An industrial revolution”

“Nothing would have been possible without the port of Sète, which has been a driving force and has created the conditions for support since the first hour”, welcomed Armand Thiberge, also co-founder of this Occitan start-up (read below) with global ambitions to meet the energy consumption of a population half of whom live on the coast.

Blue economy: the ambitions of the Montpellier designer SolarinBlue

Aurélien Croq, director of SolarinBlue, announces that the start-up wants to become the world leader in floating offshore solar power (development and operation) within 3 years. “Floating solar photovoltaic as we envision it, ecological, sustainable and competitive, is destined to find its place in the energy mixes of coastal areas all over the world”.

SolarinBlue hopes to reach 50 gigawatts in 2030 and several hundred in 2040.

For local players, the SolarinBlue project responds to “a territorial dynamic” decarbonization of activities, particularly ports. “This is the beginning of an industrial revolution that will contribute to our economic attractiveness“commented Philippe Malagola the president of the Port of Sète.

Representatives of SolarinBlue, the Region and the Port of Sète during the inauguration of the floating solar park.

Representatives of SolarinBlue, the Region and the Port of Sète during the inauguration of the floating solar park.

“Deposits to be exploited”

Camille Fabre, the regional director of Ademe Occitanie, which supports the project with 45% of the budget, places the SolarinBlue pile project in the 2030 objectives in favor of the energy mix: “In Occitania, we are at 3 gigawatts of installed photovoltaic power, and we have a target of 7 gigawatts”. Solar being carried in particular by agrivoltaic with a land issue. “There are deposits to be exploited”assures Ademe, “we will not achieve these objectives if we do not invest our maritime facades”.

The project, which the Region is not yet funding, is part of “the green pact” for Occitania according to regional councilor Sébastien Denaja, whose ambition is to “to become the first positive energy region in Europe by 2050”. Advocating in passing the “dialogue” between solar, floating wind and other “potentials” in other words fishing and shellfish farming.

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