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Huge solar panel factory set to be built in France

The €1.5billion 60-hectare site will bring 3,500 jobs to the port of Marseille area and is aiming to disrupt the Chinese-dominated market

A photo of a bank of solar panels

The park is set to be one of the biggest in Europe when it is built in Fos-sur-Mer, in Bouches-du-Rhône Pic: Lek Changply / Shutterstock

A huge solar panel factory is set to be built in France. It is set to be one of the biggest in Europe.

The 60-hectare facility is earmarked for Fos-sur-Mer near Marseille, although the exact location has not yet been decided.

Lyon-based start-up Carbon is behind the project, which will cost €1.5billion, of which €120million-€140million is currently being raised. 

Renaud Muselier, president of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, said that the region will contribute €70million.

It is expected to be finished by 2025.

Minister for Ecological Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher has hailed the move in a bid to be nationally more self-sufficient.

‘National and European sovereignty’

When complete and fully functional, it will produce 5 GW of solar power every year. For context, 1 GW is equivalent to one billion watts, or enough to power 10 billion traditional lightbulbs. 

More practically, five gigawatts is enough to power more than 3,750,000 homes.

Carbon’s president, Pierre-Emmanuel Martin, has made it clear that he intends to disrupt the current market, which is currently 70% dominated by six Chinese operators. 

He said: “How can we stop depending on China for solar panels today, and on India or the US tomorrow?”

The company intends to produce and market solar panels on a large scale at the site, as well as make the components used in their manufacture, such as silicon panels and photovoltaic batteries.

Christophe Castaner, president of the supervisory board, le Conseil de surveillance du Grand Port Maritime de Marseille, said that the future site will be “a tool for the reconquest of national and European sovereignty”.

The project is set to create up to 3,500 jobs in the local area. These are particularly significant employment and activity prospects [for the port],” Mr Castaner said.

Carbon’s full press release confirming the decision can be found here (in French).

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