SUNCNIM raises €60 million

SUNCNIM, a subsidiary of CNIM, is a joint-venture set up by CNIM in 2015 in cooperation with Bpifrance’s “Société de Projets Industriels” (Industrial Projects Company). It has achieved ‘Financial close’ of the project company eLlo, created for the purpose of building and operating the concentrated solar energy power plant at Llo in the eastern Pyrenees. This will be the world’s first Fresnel solar thermodynamic power plant with the capacity to store several hours of energy.

SUNCNIM and the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, shareholders in the project company eLlo, have managed to raise €60 million from a banking pool made up of the Caisse d’Epargne CEPAC, Arranger of the project financing, Bpifrance Financement, Caisse d’Epargne et de Prévoyance Languedoc-Roussillon,  Crédit Coopératif, Crédit du Nord and Crédit Mutuel Arkéa.

The Llo power plant, which will be built and operated by SUNCNIM, is the culmination of the bidding process initiated by the Energy Regulation Board (Commission de Régulation de l’Energie (CRE)) for a contract awarded to CNIM in 2012.

“The plant will be the world’s first in terms of technology. Designed to be eco-friendly and 100% recyclable, it will employ SUNCNIM technology using “Fresnel mirrors”. This technology is based on the recovery of thermal energy using mechanically trainable mirrors feeding solar rays to a receiver, the solar boiler. This thermal energy can be stored and converted into electricity via a steam generation process”, explains Roger Pujol, SUNCNIM’s Chairman.

Capable of generating 9 MWe, with a thermal energy storage capacity, i.e. the electricity consumption of more than 6,000 households, the Llo solar energy power plant will produce renewable electricity to be exported via the EDF grid.

According to Stanislas Ancel, a member of the CNIM Management board, “the Llo power plant marks the success of CNIM’s solar thermodynamic research and investment strategy, the key stages of which were the design and manufacturing of a prototype at its Seyne-sur-Mer (Var) site in 2010, the validation of its design by the Agency for the Environment and Optimization of Energy Resources (ADEME) in 2012 and the creation of the subsidiary SUNCNIM using the SPI “Industrial Projects Company” fund, financed by Bpifrance’s Investing for the Future Program. This preliminary initiative demonstrates our capability as a constructor and operator of large-scale technological projects.”

“SUNCNIM was the first investment of SPI funds” explains Magali Joessel, Director of the SPI fund at Bpifrance, created with the aim of “accelerating the industrialization of a technology with the potential to be a world leader in the still-emerging market for the production of solar thermal energy. With its Llo power plant, SUNCNIM gets a significant reference required for the conquest of foreign markets.”  

The Llo power plant will be built on public land located in the municipality of  Llo, close to pioneering equipment for concentrating solar energy: the CNRS solar boiler at Odeillo and the Thémis power plant at Targassonne, whose solar boiler CNIM designed and built in the 1980s.

A few figures for the Llo power station:

  • 9 MWe power output with a thermal energy storage capacity, i.e. the electricity consumption of more than 6,000 households
  • Built on a 36-hectare site
  • 95,200 mirrors fitted to 23,800 collector panels covering a total surface area of 153,000 m2

9 energy accumulators, providing 4 hours of full-charge storage capacity.

Read the press release