EDF Renewables has started construction of its first floating solar project, a 20MW installation colocated with the Lazer hydroelectric plant in southeastern France.

Geotechnical studies surveying the reservoir’s floor are already underway, while anchor systems will be built in spring 2021, followed by the installation of floating structures and PV panels.

Occupying a surface area of 24.5 hectares, around two-thirds of the reservoir’s surface, the facility will take 13 months to construct.

“Thanks to this innovative technology, we will be able to generate both hydroelectricity and solar power at the same reservoir,” said Nicolas Couderc, EDF Renewables’ executive vice-president, France. “Combining these two renewable energies will provide an additional asset to meet the government targets for developing renewable energies.”

EDF said technical and environmental studies have been conducted to preserve the site’s biodiversity and to maintain electricity generation at the Lazer hydroelectric plant.

While Asia dominates the global pipeline for floating solar projects, a recent report from Fitch Solutions suggested there is “increased traction” for the technology in markets such as France, the US and Brazil. France is home to a 17MWp floating PV plant developed by Akuo Energy that was said to be the largest facility of its kind when completed in 2019.

EDF Renewables said its move into the floating PV segment fits in with the EDF Group’s Solar Power Plan, which aims to grow the company’s solar PV capacity in France to 30GW by 2035.

Recent months have seen EDF double down on efforts to expand its business in the US, purchasing a pipeline of more than 20 PV projects with a total capacity of 4.5GW and taking full control of distributed generation company EnterSolar.

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