The Toulouse photovoltaic plant, the largest in France in an urban area, has been producing electricity for a year. Installed on part of the former AZF land and very close to the Oncopole, it covers 19 hectares. On the occasion of its official inauguration, postponed due to the pandemic, guided tour of the site with the development director of Urbasolar.
Under the midday sun, the transformers of the Toulouse solar power plant roar. They are running at full speed this Wednesday, September 22. This plant, the largest in France in an urban area, entered service in October 2020, but its inauguration was postponed by a year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On 19 hectares, no less than 35,000 photovoltaic panels have been installed. The Montpellier company Urbasolar has built its power plant here, on part of the former site of the AZF factory, bought for one symbolic euro from Total by the Toulouse Metropolis. This solar park has an installed capacity of 15 megawatts peak and makes it possible in particular to supply clean energy to the Oncopole, a center specializing in cancer research, located nearby.
Inverters and transformers
The operation of the plant is simple: the light energy is captured by so-called “thin film” panels made up of glass and metal. They are all connected to each other and form sort of tables. “We recover low-voltage DC electricity which we will then pass through inverters to create alternating current,” explains Urbasolar’s development director Julien Picart. In France, the injection voltage of the Enedis network is 20,000V. In order to raise the voltage of the current coming from the solar panels, the energy therefore passes through transformers. Then, she is educated in the network via an underground line, which crosses the area under the cycle path.
A plant of this type is quasi-autonomous and does not really require permanent intervention. But Urbasolar’s collaborators, installed in the Seven Deniers, watch the site very secure like milk on fire. “Every 10 minutes, we check more than 500 control points on the power plant, remotely, from our supervision center”, Julien Picart. In the event of a malfunction, technicians respond quickly on site.
14.8 million euros invested
Beyond the technical aspects, it should be remembered that this project, which needs 14.8 million euros of investment, is the result of a public private partnership (PPP) between Urbasola, the Toulouse Metropolis and the Régie municipal electricity (31% of the total budget between them), the Regional Energy-Climate Agency (Arec) and the Citoy’enR cooperative. “In this symbolic place for all Toulouse residents, the city shows its ability to combine a duty of memory and investment in the future on the site of the former AZF factory”, affirms Jean-Luc Moudenc, president of Toulouse Métropole.