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Inauguration of the Nitry photovoltaic power plant

On Wednesday September 6, 2023, the inauguration of the Nitry photovoltaic power plant, in Burgundy-Franche-Comté, took place. 3.8 MW, 7,600 panels: these are the characteristics of this new power plant, resulting from the partnership between APRR, a subsidiary of the Eiffage group, and EDF Renewables for the development of photovoltaic power plants on abandoned motorways. 

After Subligny, in Yonne, and Col de Bessey, in Côte-d'Or, Nitry is the third project commissioned on abandoned APRR motorways in the Burgundy-Franche-Comté region. Located on three hectares of land, owned by the Eiffage group and formerly used for the construction and operation of the A6 motorway, the plant is made up of around 7,600 solar panels. With a total power of 3.8 MW, it supplies the equivalent of the annual electricity consumption of around 1,900 people, or nearly 30 %, in the town of Avallon (89) with low-carbon electricity.

In 2017, EDF Renewables signed a partnership with the subsidiary of the Eiffage group for the development of photovoltaic power plants on sites owned by the company APRR, responsible for operating the motorway network on the Paris-Rhine-Rhône axis. This project comes from APRR's desire to revalorize its abandoned motorways using renewable energies, but also from that of the Community of Communes Chablis Villages et Terroirs for the energy transition of the territory. The plant, winner of the call for tenders from the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE), allows you to benefit from a secure tariff for 20 years and integrates the environmental issues of the installation site.

Concrete and lasting benefits for locals

The Nitry photovoltaic plant will generate direct local economic benefits throughout its lifespan. For the town of Avallon, this translates into the property tax paid each year and the development tax, but the tax benefits will also benefit the Community of Communes Chablis Villages et Terroirs, the Yonne department and the Burgundy region. -Franche-Comté.

Actors in the project, the inhabitants of Yonne contributed to the development thanks to crowdfunding launched by EDF Renewables in 2020. The inhabitants of the neighboring departments: Aube, Côte-d'Or, Loiret, Nièvre, Seine-et-Marne was also able to participate. In total, the sum of €80,000 was raised and was used to finance part of the construction of the power plant.

​​​​​​​3 questions to Eliott Guy, project manager in charge of the development of the Nitry solar power plant

How does the plant integrate the environmental issues of the site?

In terms of the landscape, hedges have been installed to limit visibility from the A6 motorway, thus preventing motorists from being bothered by potential reflections of the sun on the panels. Water retention basins were also dug to compensate for the effect of increased runoff linked to the power plant in the event of a hundred-year flood.

The project involves the establishment of an eco-pasture. Can you tell us more?

The site was mowed every year by a farmer to harvest fodder for livestock. To maintain this agricultural activity, an eco-sheep pasture has been set up with a local breeder, with whom we also work on the Massangis photovoltaic power plant. Every year, as soon as spring arrives, lambs will be born at the Massangis plant and then grow up at the Nitry plant. This partnership makes it possible to carry out natural maintenance of the site, less polluting than mechanical mowing. 

What environmental measures were taken and what was the follow-up, particularly during the works phase?

The schedule was designed to avoid bird nesting periods and any periods sensitive to fauna and flora identified during the impact study. Environmental monitoring of wildlife (bats and birds) was also undertaken from the start of the project and will continue during operation of the power plant. 

The Nitry solar power plant illustrates the dynamics of the EDF group's Solar Plan launched in 2017, with the objective of reaching 30% market share by 2035. It contributes to achieving the objectives set by the government in terms of development photovoltaics on degraded land with limited issues in terms of biodiversity and landscape.

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