Voltalia to build second run-of-river plant in French Guiana

Voltalia, a France-based international independent power producer, has secured approval for a long-term offtake contract for a planned hydropower plant in French Guiana.

The renewable energy developer announced on 31 August that the French Energy Regulation Commission (CRE) had authorised it to sign a contract with EDF SEI for the sale of electricity produced by a new run-of-river hydropower station with a capacity of 2.9 MW that is to be built on the Inini River at Saut-Sonnelle, in the town of Maripa-Soula, in French Guiana, an overseas department of France on the northeast coast of South America. The offtake contract covers a period of 30 years from the commissioning of the facility, which is scheduled for 2026, Voltalia said in a press statement.

The development of the Maripa-Soula power plant will allow for the isolated community to replace current power supply based on imported diesel with cleaner and cheaper electricity. The production of the plant is estimated at 12.7 GWh per year, making it possible to supply nearly 11 000 local inhabitants, according to Voltalia. As significantly, it will eliminate the import and consumption of around six million litres of diesel fuel, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of Maripa-Soula, in turn resulting in an emission reduction of more than 18,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

“The hydroelectric plant will meet the energy needs of the town of Maripa-Soula with a local and clean resource. The entire Maroni valley should benefit from the positive spin-offs of the upcoming project,” said Sébastien Clerc, CEO of Voltalia. The impacts of the plant will be offset by various environmental measures. More than €1.1 million will be invested in a programme to preserve the surrounding forest, the creation of a fish spawning area, and ecological monitoring (fauna, flora, sediments and water quality) upstream and downstream of the facility.

The project will be the IPP’s second run-of-river station in French Guiana, following the entry into service in 2011 of the 4.5 MW Centrale Hydroélectrique de Saut Maman Valentin in the northwestern commune of Mana. This plant, which generates around 23.5 GWh per annum, was developed by Voltalia at a cost of €22 million, including €2.4 million for the construction of a 28 km-long power line, with the support of the French public sector financial institution Caisse des Dépôts.