Around 600 tonnes of ArcelorMittal steels have been shipped to Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, where they are being used in one of the island’s largest solar plant projects. Taking advantage of the island’s warm temperatures and the shade offered by the solar panels, the five hectare site will also become the home to a vanilla plantation.
Located east of Madagascar, Reunion Island is one of France’s overseas departments. With electricity prices up to four times higher compared to continental France (due to its remoteness and lack of natural resources such as oil and gas), the island is focussing on alternative energy sources. With around 340 days of sunshine every year, the choice quickly became an obvious one - solar energy.
Distribution Solution’s Construction business line, through our fully-owned Profil du Futur subsidiary located in Horbourg-Wihr, France, has become a new player in the ground-mounted solar plants market. In 2012, the company signed an important contract with La Réunionnaise des Energies to supply 600 tonnes of steels, for use in the solar panels’ support structures and foundations.
Given the region’s exposure to cyclones, with winds of up to 300km an hour and the island’s humid climate, Réunionnaise des Energies required a high quality solution that could be firmly anchored into the fields, and that could offer high resistance to corrosion. ArcelorMittal was able to provide a comprehensive solution that met all these requirements.
Profil du Futur supplied a full system using specific cramping pickets – which were subjected to thorough pulling tests before being certified by global certification provider Bureau Veritas – to firmly anchor the structure into the soil. In addition to this, our subsidiary also provided “multibeam” and “PSB” shaped profiles which the solar panels are mounted on. A solution allowing protection against corrosion was found in Flat Carbon Europe’s Aluzinc®, with the majority of the steels supplied by our plant in Dudelange, Luxembourg. For this project, Aluzinc® comes with a 20-year guarantee.
ArcelorMittal also provided the steels for connectors and accessories, as well as specialised engineering services (including calculation notes and execution drawings).
The 600 tonnes of steel have now been supplied, and the local installation company is currently busy mounting the final few panels on our steel structures.
Helping nature take its course
The solar plant in Reunion Island is environmentally friendly in more than one way. Reunion Island – formerly known as Bourbon Island – is famous for its vanilla. Vanilla plants are climbing orchids that grow best in a warm and humid climate, protected from direct sunshine. The solar farm project in Reunion Island offered the ideal environment for the plantation and was chosen as its new home.
The first vanilla saplings have now been planted, after most of the solar panels have been mounted on the steel structures and connected to the electrical grid.
The solar plant will provide the necessary shade and protect the orchids from the sun. At the same time, the plants will get enough humidity to be able to grow at their best - a simple yet ingenious idea which will help create a sustainable future in Reunion Island.
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