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Akuo inaugurates its Focola solar plant in New Caledonia

By TEAM R20 | 24th February 2020 | Updated at 10:02


| Akuo, an independent global renewable energy power producer and developer, and Enercal Energies Nouvelles, the 100% subsidiary of New Caledonia’s electricity grid management company Enercal devoted to renewable energy, today inaugurated the Focola solar plant in New Caledonia.


Three partners for an innovative project

The Focola project was set up on the initiative of a local farmer, Jean-Christophe Niautou, who wanted to collaborate with Akuo because of its globally recognized expertise in agrivoltaic solutions on cyclone-prone islands. For the solar PV project, Akuo thus approached the Enercal group, the territory’s leading renewable energy producer. Together, they created Focola SAS, the entity in charge of this project.

An unprecedented project in the Pacific

The first Agrinergie® greenhouses deployed in the Pacific, an innovative system combining market gardening and solar PV electricity production. Sixteen cyclone-proof photovoltaic greenhouses occupy a total surface area of 22,000 m² of land. The farm produces 2 GWh of electricity a year, the equivalent of the electricity consumption of 600 homes, and some 200 metric tons of vegetables. Beyond the technical achievement itself, this project contributes to 2 major societal ambitions: this territory’s food self-sufficiency and its electrical autonomy.

The cyclone-proof aspect of these greenhouses offers clear advantages in securing agricultural production in this region that suffers two cyclones a year on average. Very committed to responsible agriculture, this farmer thus wants to explore permaculture processes. This new activity will enable him to create several new jobs. Furthermore, this project is contributing to New Caledonia’s energy independence, as the territory is very determined to make the transition to green energy given these islands’ fragile ecosystems and extremely rich biodiversity that are important to protect.

Eric Scotto, Chairman and Co-founder of Akuo, comments:

This project, unprecedented in the Pacific region, further consolidates our position in island nations. This technological feat allows high-quality market gardening production comprising a cyclone-proof system that is crucial for this territory and contributing to the creation of jobs in this region. It is a source of pride for the Akuo group that is supported by strong partners alongside Enercal and Jean-Philippe Niautou.

Nicolas Cazé, Technical Director of Enercal Energies Nouvelles, adds:

2019 was a fruitful year for Enercal Energies Nouvelles. We have commissioned two major innovative projects, Wi Hâche Ouatom, New Caledonia’s first solar plant with battery storage, and Agrinergie Focola, its first agrisolar farm. It is an honor for a local company to be able to accompany these types of projects. With Focola, we are supporting a project that, thanks to its agricultural and food security aspect, goes beyond our primary ambition of ensuring increased energy autonomy. As majority shareholder, Enercal Energies Nouvelles has contributed its expertise and know-how to ensure the project is adapted to local constraints and is fully in line with the public policy on the energy transition. As operator, we will make sure that the system is profitable and fulfills its electricity production objectives. The first months of operation have delivered on their promise, as the annual production target of 2 GWh was achieved in 8 months!