arial view of Neoen carport solar panels

Corbas Carport: Two Solar Records

Largest Solar Carport in France Meets Needs of Largest Crowd-funded Project
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Maxeon Panels
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Quick Facts:

  • 16.3 MWp Total System Size
  • Carport Installation Type
  • 20,000 MWh Solar Electricity Generation
  • 5.7 Tons of CO2 / year Emissions Avoided

Just south of Lyon, the quiet people of Corbas France now own multiple solar records. Not only do they boast the largest solar carport in the French Republic, but they also helped to fund it with the largest and most rapid solar crowdfunding in the nation’s history, committing €1.2 million in just 4 weeks. Like most records, this achievement was not easy.

The Challenge: High Energy Needs from Limited Space

In May 2018, French renewable energy developer Neoen set out to deliver on the city’s ambitious vision, but faced several challenges. Most centrally, Neoen needed to optimise its use of the limited available space to generate enough energy to offset the requirements of about 80% of the town’s population.

We’re seeing an incredible push for solar carports as the technology has matured, bringing energy costs to a competitive level. Car park operators need power to be deployed as quickly as possible to minimize business down-times. SunPower high efficiency panels require fewer panels to produce the same amount of energy, which is critical to reducing installation times on more complex carport solar installations.
Emmanuel Barry, Sales Manager, Europe Key Accounts, SunPower
SunPower panels on Neoen solar-powered carport

Copyright © Neoen

The Solution: Efficient Design, High-Efficiency SunPower® Maxeon® Solar Panels

Utilizing an existing parking lot near the city centre, Neoen designed a 16 MWp system made up of 2 tranches, efficiently providing coverage and shade for 4,600 parking spaces. Bouygues Energies & Services constructed the two complete solar energy systems across 12.5 hectares (over 30 acres) and will assure the maintenance for 20 years. Further, all construction was completed in segments so that the current business owner, Groupe Charles André, could continuously operate their parking lot for customers.

Neoen immediately recognized the importance of high efficiency panels, and selected SunPower® Maxeon 2 solar panels. Maxeon 2 panels combine high efficiency with the strongest durability1Jordan, et. al. Robust PV Degradation Methodology and Application. PVSC 2018 and warranty2Based on Jan, 2019 review of warranties on manufacturer websites for top 20 manufacturers per IHS 2018. available on the market today. The resulting carport structure generates greater long-term savings through 20-35% more energy over the first 25 years than conventional solar technology in the same space.3SunPower 327 W, 20.1% efficient, compared to a Conventional Panel on same-sized arrays (280 W multi, 17% efficient, approx. 1.64 m²) or (310 W mono PERC, 19% efficient, approx. 1.64 m²), 8% more energy per watt (based on PVSim runs for avg US climate), 0.5%/yr slower degradation rate (Jordan, et. al. Robust PV Degradation Methodology and Application. PVSC 2018).

“SunPower technology is ideal for this type of carport project where maximum efficiency is required,” said Matthieu de Cointet, Head of France Solar Development, Neoen. “Corbas is a success as France’s largest solar carport. Without the help of our partners, we could never have completed such an ambitious energy project for this community.”

Making the Complex Simple

In addition to managing a complex construction project, Neoen engineers faced logistical and project management challenges. On-time delivery and installation would be crucial: The parking lot needed to maintain its functionality during the solar installation, as the property acted as a hub to store new vehicles prior to arriving at dealerships to be sold.

SunPower was able to deliver all 37,620 SunPower Maxeon 2 solar panels on 61 solar arrays over 5 months from the time the project was awarded in 2017 to project commissioning in 2019.

SunPower Maxeon panels on Neoen solar-powered carport

Copyright © Neoen

Win-Win-Win: Bringing Together Land, Sun & Community

Solar carports like the one in Corbas make increasing logistical and financial sense in urban cores around the world, offering benefits to multiple parties. Existing land can be utilized with the added benefits of protecting vehicles and generating clean energy. Constructing solar projects near city centres also enable shorter access to the city’s electric grid, resulting in less transmission loss. Additionally, solar carports are becoming more popular and increasingly welcome by car park operators who benefit from the environmentally-friendly image and source of income.

Carports can also serve as an important path to meeting sustainability targets. As France looks to tender 17.2 GW of solar by 2025 as part of the country’s new energy strategy, increasing the volume of solar carport installations is crucial. These two solar carport projects in Corbas were awarded at the French Energy Regulation Commission Tender, run at a national level to develop solar energy projects for the country’s renewable energy objectives. SunPower Maxeon® technology was selected for the Corbas project due to its mix of high power density, high yield and overall low carbon footprint.

Perhaps most importantly, solar also became a winning bet for the people who live and work in Corbas. While they hold national records for the largest solar carport and crowdfunders in France, the real victory is closer to home: 20,000 MWh of clean solar energy will now power the homes of 80% of the Corbas municipality.

Corbas has been a success for Neoen on three fronts: it is France’s largest photovoltaic shade project, it crowdfunded part of its financing in record time, and neighbors have contributed to the project. We are thrilled and very proud, and we sincerely wish to thank the Lyon metropolitan authorities, our partners and the residents of the Ain, Isère, Loire, Rhône and Saône-et-Loire departments. Without their help, we could never have gone ahead with such an ambitious project.
Xavier Barbaro, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Neoen

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