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Paris, France, June 2, 2023 - Akuo, an independent global renewable energy producer and developer and a floating solar pioneer in France, has commissioned a new floating solar power plant in Cintegabelle, near Toulouse in southern France.

Another step towards the Occitania region’s energy transition

Cintegabelle is the second Akuo floating solar plant to become operational, following the O’MEGA1 plant (17 MWp) in October 2019 in Piolenc (Vaucluse, southern France) whose output was expanded to 22 MWp during the summer of 2022. With a capacity of 8.7 MWp, the Cintegabelle plant is located on Cap Vert lake on the southern edge of the village, a 19-ha man-made lake created when a gravel quarry ceased operations. Floating solar technology has made it possible to rehabilitate the area by adding solar electricity production to its previous functions as a reservoir and fishing area.

The new floating photovoltaic power plant provides local and decentralized renewable energy to more than 2,000 homes, thus avoiding over 900 metric tons (1,000 tons) of CO2 emissions annually. It is thus contributing to Occitania’s objectives, with this region intending to quadruple its photovoltaic production by 2030 and become Europe’s leading positive energy region by 2050.

A direct electricity purchase contract, from producer to supplier

The commissioning of the Cintegabelle floating solar plant was made possible by financing from Arkea Banque Entreprises & Institutionnels, Caisse d’Epargne Aquitaine Poitou Charentes and its financial engineering subsidiary Hélia Conseil, the Energy MAIF Transition fund, as well as electricity supplier Octopus Energy (formerly Plüm Energie) with whom Akuo has signed a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement). This forward power purchase contract commits the electricity supplier to purchasing the electricity produced by Akuo at the Cintegabelle plant over the long term (20 years) at a specified price.

A local project serving local residents

The floating solar facilities also present environmental benefits. Indeed, by covering part of the lake’s surface, the panels help reduce natural evaporation. A hedge comprising several species limiting the power plant’s visual impact from Espalmade lane (the road running alongside the lake and into the middle of the village) has been planted to ensure the site’s landscape aspect. The lake’s fishing vocation has been maintained and the site continues to be accessible to the public. The site’s fauna and flora will also be continuously monitored throughout the solar plant’s life cycle. Lastly, an educational trail is currently being created. In this same education perspective, the village’s youth department and the activity center have been involved in the creation of didactic signs (currently being installed).

The plant will be inaugurated in September. The Akuo Group is continuing to accelerate its activity in the field of floating solar, as a third floating solar power plant will come online in Gouts (Landes, southwest France) this autumn.

Eric Scotto, Akuo’s Chairman and co-founder, said “It is a source of immense pride for Akuo and all its teams to see this second floating plant become operational. Floating solar technology is crucial to meeting the energy challenges we must rise to together. At Akuo, we are accelerating this through our latest commissioning. We are also delighted to help a new production business model emerge, hand in hand with a longstanding partner, Octopus Energy, and our financial partners”.

Benoit Bonaventur, Head of the Environmental Transition Department at Arkea Banque Entreprises et Institutionnels, adds: “We are particularly pleased and proud to be supporting Akuo’s construction of the Cintegabelle floating solar plant, innovative in both technical and contractual terms (sale of electricity to a corporate, Octopus Energy). Furthermore, the plant’s commissioning will have a positive impact for the area (production of decarbonized electricity, jobs, ground rent financing market gardening, etc.) and help the village and the Occitania region to reach their future energy targets”.

Vincent Maillard, co-founder and CEO of Octopus Energy France, explains: “We have been working with Akuo for several years to bring about a new economic model that allows the development of new local production facilities while offering clients the possibility of benefiting from stable price terms over the long term. The current crisis shows just how directly useful this business model is locally”.