Établissement Public Foncier d’IIe-de-France (EPFIF) is tasked is to address substandard living conditions in IIe-de-France and develop the economy of the region. To do so, it builds affordable housing for local communities on land it acquires.
When EPFIF acquires land, however, it takes an average of five years to conduct studies and define a construction project before work can begin. During this long period, the plots, often located in the heart of the cities, are left unused.
EPFIF saw this as an opportunity to contribute towards energy transition by installing temporary solar farms on its undeveloped plots. The plan to build these solar farms went into development thanks, in particular, to public subsidies.
EPFIF’s plots are smaller than what is usually used for solar farms. This in turn only allows modest electricity generation. Moreover, the plan requires some agility because the photovoltaic panels need to be moved every five years before work starts on a future construction site. That is why EPFIF sought Arcadis' expertise to conduct exploratory studies on the installation and operation of temporary solar farms.
Arcadis' role is to carry out technical studies, considering specific features of each plot and finding ways to connect the solar farms to the electrical grid. As each municipality has its own planning rules that govern the installation of solar panels, Arcadis also conducts legal and regulatory studies. Arcadis is also in charge of economic studies to determine which plots of land will be able to support a profitable project. Finally, Arcadis helps EPFIF in setting up the farms, particularly in selecting the land and choosing the contractors for the installation and transportation of solar panels.
Such a project has never been seen before in France. Arcadis is working with EPFIF to innovate and explore new opportunities to construct more sustainable cities.
The temporary solar farms will allow the French electricity grid to be supplied with green energy, thereby meeting the energy needs of Ile-de-France residents.
Moreover, local politicians will no longer have to explain to their constituents why there are unused land in their area. Instead of vacant plots, local residents will see new, green energy-producing and job-creating activities taking place before construction begins on future projects.