American solar panel manufacturer SunPower is providing 41 MW of high-efficiency solar panels to four solar power plants in France. The French company in charge of them is La Compagnie du Vent. Three of the projects are 12 MW: Roc du Doun in the Limousin region, La Foret Marcoles in the Auvergne region and Langele solar in the Aquitaine. Le Mouruen Signes in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region
is 5 MW.

“Since 2012, La Compagnie du Vent has been a valued SunPower partner, and we are pleased to assist them in delivering an additional 41 megawatts of emission-free solar power for homes and businesses in France.Today more than 1,500 megawatts of solar plants around the world are powered using our technology. With high-performance SunPower solar panels, power plant developers may maximize power production and generate reliable returns on investment for 25 years or more,” explained SunPower Executive Vice President Jorg Heinemann.

The 12 MW Langele project has been estimated to be able to provide electricity to about 9,700 people. If we used this estimate as the standard for all the solar projects, we would expect about 800 people powered per megawatt. Each of the 3 12 MW projects would supply about 9,700 people or 29,100 total. The 5 MW project
would provide electricity to about 4,000 people, so the grand total for the 41 megawatts would be about 33,100 people.

The total number of people potentially impacted is worth mentioning because 41 MW might not sound too significant, until one considers the number of people that are likely to receive electricity. All four of the new solar plants will likely be completed by 2015 and should also be running by then. Solar power plants can be constructed quickly – especially compared with coal and nuclear power plants. France is ranked in the top 10 nations in the world for solar power capacity, but is far behind world leader Germany.

Then there is the fact that using solar power will reduce climate change emissions. One 12 MW solar system will probably offset about 14,000 tons of C02. Most of France’s electricity is generated by nuclear power, so they aren’t burning enormous amounts of coal every day, like some countries. However, some of its nuclear power plants are aging and there is a concern over potential safety issues.

One great thing about solar power is that there are zero safety concerns. It can’t blow up and send radioactive material into the air, or water. It doesn’t release toxic air pollution anywhere, because it doesn’t generate any.