In a move to a greener energy strategy and reduce their carbon footprint, SNCF, the main railway provider in France, has announced the launch of SNCF Renouvelables, their new solar energy subsidiary. With a vision to promote sustainable and affordable electricity, SNCF Renouvelables plans to establish solar power plants on available SNCF land and buildings. By 2030, the corporation aims to install a total capacity of 1,000 MWp, equivalent to 15%-20% of their current consumption, and envisions complete energy independence by 2050.
As one of the largest real estate owners in France, SNCF boasts a powerful property portfolio that offers ample opportunities for the installation of solar power plants. With over 12 million square meters of built space and more than 100,000 hectares of land, including 80,000 hectares used for rail operations, the potential for harnessing solar energy is vast. Collaborating with A the architecture firm AREP, SNCF Renouvelables has meticulously mapped this solar potential through a comprehensive “solar land registry,” cataloging over 100,000 hectares of land for photovoltaic panel installations.
The ambitious project aims to generate 1,000 megawatts-peak of photovoltaic energy, meeting 15%-20% of SNCF’s current electricity needs, through the installation of equipment on 1,000 hectares of SNCF land. The initiative kicks off with the development of 30 sites in various regions of France, encompassing a range of solar installations from ground-mounted solar arrays to rooftop panels and canopies over car parks.
The energy harnessed from these solar installations will be utilized to power the electrical equipment in SNCF’s stations, industrial buildings, and residential properties, including electric car charging points in station car parks. Notably, this renewable energy source will also contribute to powering 80% of SNCF’s electric trains, further bolstering their commitment to sustainable practices.
Beyond the environmental benefits, SNCF Renouvelables seeks to actively involve local authorities in the projects, allowing communities to participate in funding and access the energy generated for local equipment and buildings. By embracing solar power, SNCF aims to support the economic, social, and industrial vitality of regions throughout France, offering communities a new path to diversify their energy mix and accelerate their green transition.
SNCF’s commitment extends to supporting the solar panel industry in France and other European countries. The corporation pledges to prioritize the procurement of solar project components from vendors within the European Union whenever possible. As SNCF generates more of its electricity, the reduced dependence on the market will alleviate pressure on the exchange and purchase transactions for other industrial consumers.