Rion-des-Landes: a 53 MW power plant helping to advance the energy transition

A flagship project covering 60 hectares, the solar energy power plant at Rion-des-Landes in south-west France is located on an area of waste ground and produces 53 MWp of electricity. This project, delivered through a close partnership between the local municipality and the wider group of towns in the Pays de Tarusate region, is the result of a desire to develop sources of renewable energy in the local area.

Interview with Laurent Civel, Mayor of the municipality of Rion-des-Landes

“Storm Klaus in 2009 devastated a large part of this site, leaving us with a piece of land which became overgrown with vegetation and for which we struggled to find a use. This site therefore represented a real opportunity for the local community to continue its commitment to the energy transition and thereby create a solar energy plant. However, I wanted this plant to fit seamlessly into its surroundings and preserve the existing biodiversity of the site.

To deliver this large-scale project, we therefore selected the Urbasolar group because of their solid expertise and professional approach in the field of ground-based solar projects, but also because of their commitment to pay particular attention to blending the plant into its surroundings and maintaining the existing natural ecology of the site.

For this reason, more than 4 hectares have been set aside to protect local species of birds and one species of butterfly.

A further 150 hectares of forest around the perimeter of the plant have been preserved and will be maintained in order to create an environment suitable for the development of local bird life.

Beyond any simple financial return, I also wanted this project to benefit the local inhabitants directly and add to their quality-of-life. This is why Urbasolar have paid 5 years rent up front in order to support the municipality in its investment plan which, in particular, is subsidizing the local canteen and making it free-of-charge for the 250 children who use it!

Photo credit Laurent Civel  © Mairie de Rion-des-Landes