SNCF and CNR sign the largest wind power PPA in France
SNCF Energie, a subsidiary of SNCF Voyageurs, and Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR) have signed the largest direct purchase contract for wind-generated electricity in France. This announcement comes on the heels of the launch of “SNCF Renouvelables”, its solar energy production subsidiary.
On 10 July 2023, a Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) was signed between the two parties for a period of 25 years. During this time, CNR, through its subsidiary Vensolair, will build two wind farms by 2024 and supply SNCF Energie with 88-gigawatt hours (GWh) of renewable electricity per year.
The two wind farms will be located in the Haute-Vienne and Eure-et-Loir départements. They will comprise 12 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of 36 megawatts (MW). They will generate around 88 GWh of electricity a year, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of the RER D train line in the Paris region. Construction of the wind farms is due to start this autumn.
This is the first wind PPA signed by SNCF Energie and the largest wind PPA contract in France. CNR is also France’s leading producer of fully renewable electricity. This long-term contract between SNCF Energie and CNR will help SNCF Voyageurs reduce its dependence on volatile electricity market prices. Ultimately, this should also enable SNCF Voyageurs to avoid emitting 4,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent every year.
The SNCF is the largest consumer of electricity in France. Its energy needs fall into four main categories: rail traction (more than half of consumption), road (around a quarter of consumption) and the needs of buildings in the tertiary, social, industrial and rail sectors, including stations, as well as service vehicles. Today, the SNCF transports 11 per cent of passengers and goods in France and accounts for less than 1 per cent of the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.
With the launch of its subsidiary SNCF Renouvelables, dedicated to developing and installing renewable energy capacity on its land reserves, which are among the largest in the country. SNCF Voyageurs also aims to achieve 40 to 50 per cent renewable energy, including 20 per cent from PPA contracts, in its electricity consumption mix for train traction by 2026.
SNCF Voyageurs’ objective is to have 1,100 GWh of renewable electricity from PPA contracts by 2027-2028. SNCF Energie has been piloting SNCF Voyageurs’ “corporate PPA” programme since 2018. With these new contracts, by 2027, more than 560 GWh per year will come from additional photovoltaic and wind power plants.
Alstom is also turning to solar energy
The SNCF is not the only rail operator to turn to renewable energies. On Monday, Alstom announced a new PPA with Schneider Electric, focusing on the development of solar energy in Spain. The 160 GWh/year solar park project will cover roughly the equivalent of 80% of Alstom’s electricity consumption in Europe. The solar park is expected to be operational from 2025, and the contract will run for 10 years.