SPIE wins maintenance contract for Compagnie Nationale du Rhône's (CNR) first floating solar plant

Published on 26 November 2020

Cergy, 26 November 2020 – The Industrie division of SPIE Industrie & Tertiaire, a French subsidiary of the SPIE Group, the independent European leader in multi-technical services in the areas of energy and communications, wins the tender for the corrective and preventative maintenance contract for the CNR’s (Compagnie Nationale du Rhône) first floating solar plant on Lac de la Madone at Mornant and Chabanière on the Rhône (department 69 - Rhône). Renowned for its expertise in the field of photovoltaic maintenance and for its extensive national network, the Industrie division has committed to a 5-year period working alongside the CNR.

Specialist team in the field of photovoltaic maintenance

The Industrie division of SPIE Industrie & Tertiaire has been selected for its expertise and more than a decade of experience in the field of photovoltaic maintenance. 10 engineers will be managing this contract. They will be responsible for the 24/7 maintenance and operation of the first floating power station on Lac de la Madone, which has been operational since December 2019. This includes:

- 630 floating photovoltaic panels
- 7 anchors and underwater cables
- 3 photovoltaic inverters
- 1 HVA cell[1]

Regular maintenance of the equipment, quality inspections to ascertain any deterioration of the plant or potential technical problems, is set out within the contract. Every two years, a surveyor will assess the stability of the platform and, upon the client's request, underwater divers will do a visual check on the fixings and underwater cabling.

SPIE operates one of the few sites specialised in photovoltaic maintenance, with experts and representatives across the whole of France. They work equally well with their own CMMS[2] software, as well as that of their clients. The teams know how to adapt”, explains Philippe de Lastic, Head of the Energy Department within the Industrie division. “All of our engineers have undergone training in aquatic rescue and are qualified in HVA[3] to access the plant's high voltage cell.

We've had the opportunity to collaborate with the teams from the Industrie division before signing the contract, during the construction of two solar power stations: the first with a potential of 3 megawatts at Villebois (department 01 - Ain) in 2019 and the second, currently in construction, with a potential of 18 megawatts, at Beaucaire (department 30 - Gard). SPIE distinguishes itself through its highly specialised technical skills in the area of photovoltaic maintenance. The proximity of the teams to the site and their availability are encouraging indicators to pursue and develop our industrial partnership”, said Nicolas Court, Head of Operations at CNR's New Energies Department.

A facility designed with the basin's biodiversity in mind

The floating solar platform measures 2500m², which represents 4% of the total surface area of the agricultural irrigation basin upon which it is situated. This facility can produce 250 MWh per year, equivalent to the electricity consumption of fifty-seven homes.

Two types of fish spawning grounds have also been created at the bottom of the lake, to provide a breeding and feeding area for the aquatic fauna. The underwater cables are protected in submerged sheaths which do not impact whatsoever on the aquatic fauna. The platform is also made from recyclable plastic. “2500 m² is dedicated to the production of green energy, which aligns perfectly with our commitments to energy transmission and sustainable development”, reported Philippe de Lastic.

The solar and photovoltaic energy market is both promising and biodiversity-friendly: “We're proud to have taken the step of positioning ourselves in this flourishing market in France, and to have become a key player in it”, asserted Fabien Bercet, Head of the Energy & Industrial Processes Department at SPIE Industrie & Tertiaire – Industrie division.

[1] High Voltage (HV) electrical equipment (interrupters, circuit breakers, disconnectors, etc.) is generally installed in cells; modular metal cupboards which are assembled and connected together. These cells are installed during construction.

[2] Computer-aided maintenance management

[3] An HV/LV substation (or HV/LV transformer substation) is a facility, inaccessible to the public, which carries the connection between the high voltage (HV) network and the low voltage (LV) network.