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28/10/2021 News

Innovative with a societal slant - floating solar panels

  • The TotalEnergies Renewables branch and the Gaves Adour Economic Interest Group (GIE) signed a partnership agreement for floatovoltaic power plants.
  • A technological innovation proposed by researchers from the UPPA (University of Pau and the Adour region), an institution the TotalEnergies teams have been working with for many years on a range of different topics.
  • The project is another illustration of the broad energy Company’s commitment to work toward curbing global warming, and will valorize unused surface areas for producing energy, to the benefit of farmers.

Guy Estrade, President of the GIE Gaves Adour, and Thierry Muller,
Senior Vice President of TotalEnergies Renewables France, sign the memorandum of understanding in Pau on October 28, 2021

The partnership between TotalEnergies gies and the GIE Gaves Adour, which includes the UPPA and the Chamber of Agriculture of the Pyrénées Atlantiques, focuses on the development of three floatovoltaic power plants installed on artificial lakes in the Béarn region. The partnership signature, which brought together the main players in the presence of Jean-Jacques Lasserre, President of the Pyrénées Atlantiques Departmental Council, was held at the Jean Feger Scientific and Technical Center (CSTJF) in Pau on October 28, 2021.

“We are delighted to host this event at the CSTJF, which reflects the energy world of the future, comprising an essential share of decarbonized energies. The teams at the CSTJF, who are now having to work on activities other than hydrocarbons, are very proud of being able to contribute to the Company’s renewable energies ambition and in particular, to work with our colleagues from TotalEnergies Renewables France (formerly Total Quadran), already renowned for a series of successful photovoltaic farm projects, some of which are located on our former gas sites in the Lacq Basin” Thierry Renard announced. The Head of the CSTJF Site also mentioned the symbolism of innovation, the research center’s true DNA, as well as the importance of the ties developed between local partners, another area in which the Company is committed to enhancing the value of the territory: “The diversity of the players present here today will be essential to making the energy transition a collective success. World leaders like TotalEnergies naturally have a major role to play, but nothing could be achieved without all the other stakeholders in the economic world, in this case, the agricultural sector, or without the driving forces and keen minds in research – the UPPA for this project – and the territorial councils and political players at both local and national levels.”

An innovative project in line with local challenges

The partnership effectively fuels the territories’ energy transition, by contributing to the decarbonization of electricity generation. It gives added value to unused areas of land, without encroaching on farmland, and the economic benefits contribute to sustaining irrigation activity. “TotalEnergies is proud to work with the GIE Gaves Adour and the UPPA to support the implementation of sustainable and innovative projects that help maintain an activity essential to regional agriculture. We are and always will be alongside the farming sector to support the energy transition in that area, in tandem with the development of competitive solutions. “Floatovoltaics” is also one of the avenues to be explored in order to meet the energy demands of the agricultural sector,” declared Thierry Muller, Senior Vice President, TotalEnergies Renewables France. His teams use their expertise in development, engineering, finance, construction, operations and maintenance to help this project, based on a technology developed by five researchers from the laboratory of thermal engineering, energy and processes at the UPPA – an entity specialized in energy system optimization issues.

Presented on site, a prototype of the floating structure comprising several “modules”, and designed to receive all the equipment, drew the attention of the 50 or so guests. Rémi Pires, a researcher at the UPPA, explained that putting solar panels on lakes would do away with having to look for available installation space, which is a constant concern for onland power plants. The food-grade quality materials and configuration of the panels lets a maximum amount of light through. The use of bifacial modules, that can produce energy both on the front and back faces, increases the production capacity and maintains the water temperature.


The Pyrénées-Atlantiques is a leading farmland and agrofood territory, whose economic development has been built on structuring sectors. It is taking on the challenge of the energy transition, in collaboration with the Chamber of Agriculture of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Jean-Jacques Lasserre who gave the closing speech after the presentation of the project and the signature of the memorandum, reiterated how pleased he was by the implementation of this kind of innovative project, which reflects the social and environmental responsibility of all the stakeholders. The approach is part of INNOPY Pyrénées which itself is a component of the future government investment plan, TIGA (Territoire d’innovation de grande ambition). The Pyrénées-Atlantiques Department was selected as a territory that fosters innovative solutions to transform our country and to provide tangible solutions to transitioning challenges with economic development uppermost in mind.