When France sees life through green-tinted spectacles…
Urban district heating system, photovoltaic solar energy, wind power... The Perpignan Urban District (Communauté d’agglomération Perpignan Méditerranée) is keen to concentrate all these sources of renewable energy in a local dedicated area, so that all the proper conditions can be provided for their development. This programme, developed in consultation with all the economic players, envisages, for instance, the setting up of a genuine renewable energy park capable of providing 135 MW of power, which represents more energy over a year than the electricity consumption of the City of Perpignan.
Ancient toll gate in Perpignan - @ MAE-N. Chabard
The Grenelle Environment Forum held in October 2007 set a minimum target of 20% of national electricity consumption being sourced from renewable energy.
As the President of the Perpignan Urban District and Mayor of Perpignan, Mr Jean Paul Alduy points out, “We are entering a new era and it is our responsibility to be at the forefront in terms of renewable energy sources”. For his part, Mr Jean-Louis Borloo, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Planning, has lent his support to this measure by signing a framework agreement on 18 January with Perpignan and its urban district to make it a “world example” of renewable energy production.
This “Grenelle 2015” agreement aims essentially to produce 100% renewable energy within the district, at a level higher than its consumption, through the use of several energy sources: solar, wind and heat recovery.
Perpignan’s energy package is based principally on forty wind turbines, three ground-mounted solar power plants and heat recovery from the Calces incinerator in the north of the city, as well as widespread use of solar panels on the roofs of public buildings. It also plans to install 70,000 m2 of photovoltaic roof structures on the Marché Saint-Charles, a huge European redistribution centre for Mediterranean fruit and vegetables, costing 55 million euros. “This is the biggest roof-integrated photovoltaic system in the world,” states Mr Jean-Louis Borloo, adding that “Perpignan is the first city in Europe to embark on a renewable energy programme on this scale”.
The plan envisages renewable energy production of around 440,000 MWh/year for domestic consumption of 436,000 MWh throughout the urban district. Industry consumes an additional 300,000 MWh. The aim is to move towards a “100% renewable positive energy city, which produces more than it consumes,” according to the city’s mayor.
The framework agreement signed between the Urban District and the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Planning also includes preservation of the farms located between the various towns of the district, as well as the organisation of local distribution networks for fruit and vegetable consumption.
The environmental protection aims covered by the framework agreement also focus on the field of transport, including the operation of the future Barcelona-Perpignan high-speed train line and improved vehicular traffic regulation. Measures to encourage citizens to change their habits in terms of sorting waste and recycling are also planned. Let’s hope that other European authorities will follow the lead of Perpignan and its Urban District on the road towards environmental protection and sustainable development.