Engie and Amazon invest in photovoltaics in Sicily

Engie and Amazon invest in photovoltaics in Sicily

The e-commerce giant is the main buyer of the plants that the energy company is building in Mazara del Vallo and Paternò

Traditional solar panels by Engie (press office photo) A photovoltaic system mounted on arable land which, in addition to to produce “clean” electricity, it will guarantee the continuity of agricultural activities, avoiding land abandonment. These are some of the synergies of the project that Engie, a French energy company, has begun to build in two green energy parks in Sicily, in Mazara del Vallo (Palermo) and Paternò (Catania). The agro-photovoltaic project will be active by April 2022 with a global installed capacity of 104 megawatts, of which 80% will be destined for the activities of Amazon, partner of the initiative with a multi-year energy purchase contract (Corporate power purchase agreement), while 20% will be destined for about 20 thousand households.

"This partnership based on a sales contract with Amazon allows the project to eliminate the problem of volatility in the cost of electricity, making the bankable project, being based on the ability to generate cash flows in the future ", explained Andrea Fiocchi, head of renewable energy at Engie:" We are close to closing the project financing agreement with a pool of three financial institutions, Société Générale, Bnp Paribas and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti. The cost of the project? It will not exceed 10% more than a 'normal' photovoltaic system ".

What the agro-photovoltaic plant will look like

The two photovoltaic parks will make it possible to avoid the emission of over 62 thousand tons of CO 2 per year, equivalent to approximately 3.1 million planted trees. The spacing will allow to cultivate rows of Mediterranean essences (almond, olive, lavender), forage, aromatic and medicinal plants in the center. In particular, the technology deployed will consist of transparent double-sided photovoltaic modules, mounted on single-axis trackers to orient the panels according to the movement of the sun and capture 20% more light, direct and reflected, on both sides. The land, bought by Engie, occupies 183 hectares in total, of which 113 in Mazara and 70 in Paternò. In the first case, the system will occupy 27.9% of the space and in the second 26.5%. For the agricultural part, local companies will be used.

"Sicily boasts the largest areas of organic cultivation in Italy and the plants with agro-photovoltaic technology that are being built on the island, in addition to preventing land consumption , meet the regional strategy for sustainable development ", said Nello Musumeci, president of the Region.

Engie's presence in Italy

The energy company has accelerated its strategy in renewables, tripling its installed capacity in 2020 in Italy. The company has added to the 165 megawatts of production plants an additional 150 Mw of operational wind farms and 170 Mw of wind and photovoltaic projects under construction in 2021/2022, of which 142 Mw only in Sicily (including the Mazara and Paternò parks). . Engie thus achieves approximately 500 MW of renewable energy, aiming for the goal of 1.2 gigawatts of green production by 2025, contributing to the 2030 Energy and Climate Plan for decarbonisation. In our country, the company has a total of 23 renewable energy parks.

"We want to continue developing greenfield projects in the area, both in the wind and agro-photovoltaic sectors, by investing in assets that are already operational and in authorized projects, combining them with the energy storage systems we produce ”, explained Damien Térouanne, CEO of Engie Italia. Last year, in fact, the company was awarded (as the first operator for the center-south and second at the national level) Terna's "Fast Reserve" tender to build storage plants composed of high-tech batteries, for a total of 42 Mw.

For its part, Amazon has signed similar Ppa agreements with Engie in France and the United States, for a total of 650 Mw. The goal of the American multinational is to reach 100% consumption energy from renewables in Italy by 2025 and zero net CO 2 emissions by 2040 (Climate Pledge). “We are the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy in the world, with a production capacity of 8.5 gigawatts and 206 globally active projects,” said Giorgio Busnelli, director of the consumer goods department of Amazon Italy and Spain.

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