EDF Renewables, a unit of French energy company EDF, has deployed its first floating solar plant on the Lazer hydropower plant reservoir in the French Alps.

The floating solar plant is the first of its kind in the country. It has a 20MW capacity and is powered by 50,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.

The move combines solar and hydroelectric power generation in a single location.

The solar facility supports the hydropower station, particularly during the summer months, by generating clean energy when the Lazer reservoir’s water is being used primarily for irrigation.

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The anchor and the float system of the solar plant allow it to adapt to changing water levels without affecting its operations.

The plant will meet the annual electricity needs of 12,500 people.

Floating solar will support the country’s goal of 100GW of solar power generation by 2050.

In 2018, the project was the victorious candidate in a call for proposals by the French Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission de la Régulation de l’Energie).

In 2021, a participatory funding campaign was launched, through which local people invested €179,000 ($195,000) in the project.

Construction began in 2021 following geotechnical studies and the placement of anchors.

The PV panels were assembled on floats and set on the water in groups before being towed to their final site.

The facility is expected to have an operating life of 30 years.

EDF Group Renewable Energies senior executive vice-president Bruno Bensasson stated: “We are proud to open the Lazer floating solar power plant. The new facility provides a perfect illustration of the complementary nature of the EDF Group’s expertise and our capacity for innovation.

“To achieve this first for France, EDF Renewables drew on the expertise it has developed at an international level, with four floating solar power plants already constructed in Israel and the USA. By combining two sources of renewable electricity generation at a single site, this project will help France meet its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.”