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La Poste becomes solar

Energy Communities
03/07/2018

Installing a photovoltaic shade in a parking lot to power the electric vehicles parked there: this was the subject of a call for innovations launched by La Poste in January 2018 and which was just won by a mixed team from ENGIE/EATON.

Emmanuel SCHILLEWAERT and Laurent FOULON from the Normandy Regional Delegation and Xavier COULANGES and Gwenaelle DOUARD from ENGIE Ineo led this project and told us more about its beginnings.


In January 2018, we heard about a call for innovations launched by La Poste to install a photovoltaic shade and storage space on a pilot site already equipped with charging stations. La Poste wanted the system to be mobile in case of a change of site, which implies a structure that is light enough to be able to be moved.

To make the project a success we had to seek out the right skills, especially from ENGIE INEO’s teams in Toulouse. We had also met EATON on a data center project and subsequently offered them to collaborate on this project. Their expertise in the nuances of managing electricity storage systems is a real added value and one of their areas of expertise, reusing second-life batteries, is an interesting "bonus" CSR skillset.

The call to Innovations that we won initially involved installing a two-seater shack with a second-generation battery for storage on a pilot site in the Yvelines for a 12-month test.

 

Going into startup mode

To win this Call for Innovations, we really played on our agility, speed, adaptability and ability to listen to the customer. Our goal was to show that the ENGIE / EATON duo could offer an intelligent and relevant solution that met the specific needs of La Poste.

It had to be shown that two companies like EATON, which still has about 150,000 employees around the world, and ENGIE are able to respond to an ultra-local, specific and time-constrained need, while ensuring that the solution is generalizable and adaptable to any site if needed. So we worked on the issue of reproducibility, with a simple business model that met our client’s expectations.

The need expressed in this call for innovations is very specific: during the day, when there is sun, the vehicle can’t be charging  since it’s moving around. Their fleet’s vehicles are parked at night and drive during the day. The issue at hand is how to store the energy during the day and to reinject it at night when the vehicles need it.

Technically it involves photovoltaic solar panels, and storage creates a buffer for recharging the vehicles when they are not being used.

If the test is conclusive, we hope to be able to move to an industrial phase on other sites in order to increase the number of shades and storage units based on the number of vehicles. The solution is totally modular."

 

A future niche 

If we take into account the number of existing car parks and the planned rollout of electric vehicles, it seems fundamental to us to position ourselves in this niche.

We create value for a plot of land that didn’t have any before. The solution we’ve built is not THE ideal solution everywhere and anywhere. It is the response to the needs of an entity that has real estate that can be improved.

It is well known that in terms of ENR, photovoltaics is one of the solutions of the future, as it can be deployed more easily than wind power, with significant potential. For us this project with La Poste allows us to build on a promising subject.

Also, this project let INEO’s teams to get to know EATON and vice versa. In terms of project management and leadership we learned a lot.

One of the points we were awarded the project on is the storage part, which combined our ENGIE know-how and the technique proposed by EATON, as well as on the reuse of a used battery, which was very popular. It’s about making things tangible, pragmatic and in line with our credo for energy production: decarbonated, renewable, relocatable, and including digital.