SUNCNIM and Banque des Territoires, shareholders in the ELLO project company, inaugurated the Llo thermodynamic solar power plant with energy storage, in the presence of Martine Rolland, representative of Hermeline Malherbe, President of the Departmental Council of the Eastern Pyrenees, Eliane Jarycki, representative of Carole Delga, Former Minister and President of the Occitania Region, Jean Castex, General Councillor of the Catalan Pyrenees, Georges Armengol, President of the Pyrenees Cerdagne Community of Communes, Philippe Chopin, Prefect of the Eastern Pyrenees and Jean-Marie Mas, Mayor of Llo. The plant, which began construction on September 12, 2016, has been in production since May 14, 2019.

Olivier Camau, Deputy managing director, Banque des Territoires Occitanie, Eric Lecomte, Investment director, Bpifrance, Georges Armengol, President of the community of communes Pyrenees-Cerdagne, Philippe Chopin, Prefect of Eastern Pyrenees, Stanislas Ancel, chairman of SUNCNIM, chief executive of CNIM Environment & Energy Sector, Jean Castex, Departmental Councillor for the Catalan Pyrenees, Jean-Marie Mas, mayor of Llo, Martine Rolland, representative of Hermeline Malherbe, President of the Easterne Pyrenees Departmental Council, Eliane Jarycki, representative of Carole Delga, former Minister and President of the Occitania Region, Hélène Josende, Departmental Councillor for the Catalan Pyrenees

Llo, Friday September 20, 2019 – Located in Llo in Cerdagne (Eastern Pyrenees), it is the first thermodynamic Fresnel solar energy concentrator with energy storage in the world. Built and operated by SUNCNIM, a subsidiary of the CNIM Group, it will contribute to the energy independence of Cerdan region and reduce the use of fossil fuels. With a power output of 9 MWe and thermal energy storage, i.e. the electricity consumption of more than 6,000 homes, the Llo power plant produces electricity both during the day and part of the night.

Environmentally-friendly technology

With an eco-friendly design and 100% recyclable, the Llo power plant is the fruit of development work conducted in France. It uses «Fresnel Mirror» technology to collect solar energy using 153,000 m² of mirrors, and then stores thermal energy using technology developed by SUNCNIM. Driven by a remote computerized control system, the mirrors track and concentrate the sun’s rays onto a fixed receiver tube placed 10 meters above the ground. Water circulates inside the heated receiver tube and is then turned into steam. Such steam can either be used in industrial processes or to produce electricity, heat, pure water, or even cooling. It can also be stored in pressure vessels for use at any time, including at night. «This storage capacity is a considerable trump for the renewable energy operation, but it is intermittent, explains Stanislas Ancel, Chairman of SUNCNIM. The Fresnel system uses technology which can produce thermal energy. As it only uses water as heat transfer fluid, it is also the most environmentally-friendly».

The project has also a positive impact on the local economy. Plant construction has required more than 100 workers during peak periods, and its operation has generated eight permanent jobs held by residents of the Cerdan plateau.

The solar plant is built on land located near Llo village, close to other pioneering solar concentrating equipment: the Mont-Louis solar furnace, built by Felix TROMBE in 1949, the solar furnace built by CNRS-PROMES in Odeillo-Via in 1969 and the Thémis plant in Targasonne, for which CNIM designed and built the solar boiler in the 1980s.

Banque des Territoires is a 49% shareholder (7.8 million Euros in equity) of the ELLO project company, which brings the investment to nearly 65 million Euros and thus confirms its willingness to work for the ecological and energetic transition to promote more sustainable regions.

Nicolas Dmitrieff, Chairman of the Management Board of CNIM:»The Llo solar power plant demonstrates our ability to design, build and operate facilities that answer to today’s major energy challenges. It is the outcome of CNIM Group’s approach to renewable energies, integrating R&D, prototyping and industrial operation.”

Thierry Ravot, Regional Director of Banque des Territoires in Occitania: “As an international showcase of French know-how, the Llo power station is an exceptional project. This unique achievement attests to Banque des Territoires’ willingness to support major investments through innovative partnerships with local businesses.”

The Llo solar plant in figures:

1.A power output of 9 MWe with thermal energy storage, i.e. the electricity consumption of more than 6,000 homes.
2.153,000 m² of mirrors installed over an area of 36 hectares.
3.9 thermal energy pressure vessels with a total capacity of more than 1,000 m3, equivalent to 4 hours full load operation.

The institutions financing the operation:

1.Caisse d’Epargne Provence Alpes Corse (lead partner), Caisse d’Epargne Languedoc-Roussillon and Caisse d’Epargne Côte d’Azur.
2. Bpifrance.
3.Crédit du Nord.
4.Crédit Coopératif.