France launches vast solar panel array

Oct 13, 2011
Solar panels are seen in in Les Mees, southern France. France has launched its largest-ever solar energy farm, with an array of panels spread over about 200 hectares (500 acres) in the mountainous southern Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region.

France on Thursday launched its largest-ever solar energy farm, with an array of panels spread over about 200 hectares (500 acres) in the mountainous southern Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region.

With a production capacity of 90 megawatts, the vast photovoltaic park features nearly 113,000 solar panels and was built at a cost of 110 million euros ($137 million).

It has roughly the same surface area as the nearby principality of Monaco, an independent state.

"It is the largest solar site currently in service in France," Stephane Behr, the head of the project at French energy firm Eco Delta, said at the array's inauguration ceremony.

The launch comes as Europe increasingly seeks amid rising from fossil fuels and concerns over atomic energy in the wake of Japan's .

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Nanobanano
4.6 / 5 (9) Oct 13, 2011
With a production capacity of 90 megawatts, the vast photovoltaic park features nearly 113,000 solar panels and was built at a cost of 110 million euros ($137 million).


If these prices are correct, somebody in the U.S. is ripping everyone.

That $137 million installed is about half the purchase price of the panels alone in the U.S., even without the heliostats and power cables, and of course doesn't even remotely cover install cost.

This same project in the U.S. would cost like at least 5 times, maybe even 10 times more money total.

Does our country suck that bad at everything lately?
Scottingham
4 / 5 (4) Oct 13, 2011
@nano, considering how corrupt our country is, yes.
darthbonobo
5 / 5 (2) Oct 13, 2011
Um, whoever wrote the press release failed in their fact-check. Enfinity's 18.2MW, 36 acre subsection of the array cost 70m euros alone...
http://www.guardi...c-france
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2011
Um, whoever wrote the press release failed in their fact-check. Enfinity's 18.2MW, 36 acre subsection of the array cost 70m euros alone...
http://www.guardi...c-france


Twice as expensive as the article lets you believe.

And, the 26 million kWh yearly production gives you an average rate of 3 MW instead of 18.2 MW.

This is the problem with renewables. Their nameplate figures are wildly misleading because the output fluctuates all the time very strongly.

Yet you have to build your infrastructure according to the peak output, which means that you can't build more peak wattage than you can use. In this case it means that France will never be able to cover more than about 16% of their consumption with solar power in the optimal case.

Unless of course they ditch the "virtual battery" scheme and invest in some actual batteries.
Shelgeyr
5 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2011
Monaco is only 500 acres?

I live in Texas - we call things that size "neighborhoods".

I'm with Nanobanano regarding thinking these things are way overpriced in the USA. I know it may be a supply/demand thing (which government interference always messes up), but I've got to wonder what the actual cost of production for these things is - not the wholesale or retail, but the real production costs. Just really curious...
tpb
not rated yet Oct 13, 2011
Something is really screwy here.
From link in guardian.co.uk:
36 acres = 18.2 MW and $82,000,000.
Then 90 MW would equal 178 acres and $405,500,000, not $137,000,000.
If the 405 million is correct instead of the 137 million, then at $4055 per KW, this is in line with US installed prices of about 1 dollar per watt for the panel and $3 to $4 per watt for installation, wiring electronics etc.

Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (4) Oct 13, 2011
It was optimal to build it on a hill so that it was closer to the sun on average.

Kudo's to the engineers.
hard2grep
3.5 / 5 (2) Oct 14, 2011
solar cell are high maintenance items; has anyone thought of this? What could possibly be so expensive to maintain when all it does is sit there? The cells must be cleaned for optimal efficiency.
hard2grep
not rated yet Oct 14, 2011
Evaporation might be a better mechanism for energy conversion since it would have more evaporation time than sun time. You know what I'm talking about right? Evaporation can be controlled, tapped and used for energy production, and not much water has to be lost. In fact, releasing water into the environment might be good for it. Dust should not be a problem here... think turgor pressure.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Oct 14, 2011
The cells must be cleaned for optimal efficiency.

Have you got cells on your roof? People in my family have them. They have had them for 10 years and never cleaned them.
The cells only now starting to degrade (down about 5-10% from original optimal output) - but that is most likley due to degradation caused by UV.

Now if you want to have really optimal efficiency then you can pattern the covering glass with a nanolayer that will give you the lotus effect. The occasional rainfall will be ample to keep everything spotless (and the mountains of France aren't exactly sandstorm country)

Evaporation might be a better mechanism for energy conversion since it would have more evaporation time than sun time.

New solar cells work well in ambient light. Cost per Watt used to be in favor of solar-thermal - that has changed recently with the drop in cost of PV. Solar-theraml doesn't use water but molten salt or oils with higher boiling points (better generator efficiency)
Stephane
not rated yet Oct 19, 2011
Hi I'm the project manager of this plant, I would to correct the article :
"With a production capacity of 90 megawatts, the vast photovoltaic park features nearly 113,000 solar panels and was built at a cost of 110 million euros ($137 million)."
In fact, all the plant on site represents a capacity of 90MWp, and our project represents 30.9 MWp for 113 000 solar panels and was built at a cost of 110 million euros ($137 million).

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