French railway company launches renewable energy unit, plans 1 GW of solar power



SNCF says it wants to dedicate 1,000 hectares of its land to solar energy development so that it can cover 20 percent of its electricity consumption by the end of the decade.

French railway company SNCF announced this week the creation of SNCF Renouvelables, a new clean energy unit.

With its fleet of 15,000 daily trains and 3,000 stations and industrial buildings, SNFC is the largest electricity consumer in France, using 9 TWh per year, of which 8 TWh is for train electrification.

SNCF Renouvelables plans to allocate 1,000 hectares of its land to the development of 1 GW solar power plants. The goal is to cover 20% of its electricity needs by 2030. This initial phase makes up a small part of SNCF’s total land holdings of around 100,000 hectares, making it the country’s second largest landowner after the state.

Energy consumption costs have more than doubled in 2022 and 2023,” said SNCF President Jean-Pierre Farrandou. “This equates to more than 700 million euros ($764.6 million) in energy used for train traction alone over these two years.”

SNCF already produces electricity itself on the roofs or in the shadows of the stations with solar panels through its subsidiary SNCF Gares et Connexions.

Its SNCF Energie unit has also been piloting an “enterprise power purchase agreement” since 2018. It has already signed several power purchase agreements, including one with French energy giant EDF, one with Switzerland’s Axpo and one French independent power producer Reden.

David is a passionate writer and researcher who specializes in solar energy. He has a strong background in engineering and environmental science, which gives him a deep understanding of the science behind solar power and its benefits. David writes about the latest developments in solar technology and provides practical advice for homeowners and businesses who are interested in switching to solar.

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