Between cliff and forest, 14,600 photovoltaic panels have been capturing the sun’s rays for two years in the former Baud quarry (56). The largest solar power plant in Brittany, soon to be dethroned by that of Guignen (35), exceeded the objectives set by TotalEnergies, its operator. “With 1,130 hours of sunshine per year, the 4.5 MW site has exceeded 5 GWh of annual production, the equivalent of the consumption of 4,000 inhabitants, excluding heating and hot water”, explains Baptiste Simon, Head of Large West of the renewable energy agency of the energy giant.
In 2020, Brittany had 254 MW of photovoltaics, according to RTE, a little more than half of the objective of the Breton electricity pact. The consequence of often very long delays between the launch of projects and the production of the first kWh. Ten years in Baud where TotalEnergies had to optimize costs due to the drop in the kWh buy-back price. Selected in June 2017 by the State, the project began work a little over a year later.
“The dynamic is modest”
In total, in 2020, Brittany benefited from a renewable energy production capacity of 1,670 MW, up 2.4% over one year. A development far below the objective set in 2010, when the Breton electricity pact was signed. The document, initialed by the State and the Region, established the commitment to 3,600 MW of renewable electricity production capacity in 2020.
In ten years, the wind sector (50% of regional production) has doubled, from a capacity of 535 MW to 1,065 MW. “The dynamic is modest”, admitted by the delegate of RTE in the West, Carole Pitou-Agudo. It should have reached 1,800 MW and offshore wind power, for which the first wind farm, in the bay of Saint-Brieuc (just under 500 MW), will not be operational before 2023, should have benefited from a capacity of 1,000 MW.
The consequence of a low acceptability of wind power projects, at sea as on land, where the diffuse Breton habitat slows down the development of renewable energies.
Less difficulty for solar. But photovoltaic energy has had, until then, to face competition from the south of France. But the scarcity of land for rent around the Mediterranean and the drop in the construction costs of power plants are changing the situation. TotalEnergies hopes to launch, this year, the construction ofa 16 GWh plant at Laz (29) and has five other projects under development in the region, including that of Plomelin (8 GWh) which should be examined by the Energy Regulatory Commission in December. Projects are flourishing everywhere in Brittany as in Plévin or Dinan (22).
In this context, Brittany continues to benefit, for nearly 80%, from interregional solidarity: the electricity produced by the coal-fired power station of Cordemais (44) and especially the electricity of nuclear power stations, including that of Flamanville (Manche ). In winter, the oil-fired power stations at Brennilis and Dirinon (29) are always necessary in the event of peak consumption. The commissioning of the Landivisiau gas plant (29) will not take place before the end of the year.
Beyond energy dependence, the challenge is to reduce the carbon footprint of electricity production. Yes, but here it is, the solar panels used by TotalEnergies are made in Asia. “By factories connected to hydroelectric power stations”, defends the company, certifying a return on carbon investment in the space of two to three years. The recycling of panels at the end of their life will be covered by the ecotax paid when the plant is created.
Autonomy in 2040?
The energy renovation of housing has also enabled the region to slow the growth of its electricity consumption, despite growing demographics. Last year, consumption, after correction of the weather factor, increased by 0.4% in Brittany, according to RTE. The development of the electric vehicle fleet, although offset by the installation of solar panels for company fleets, could however weigh.
In other words, the market set for 2040 is very high. Brittany wants to multiply by seven its production of renewable energies and further reduce its consumption to move closer to autonomy.
In Baud, TotalEnergies is preparing to expand its power station by an additional mega watt. A small step. The new and last unit must be put into service at the end of the year.
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