SNCF, the French national railway company, has launched a new subsidiary, SNCF Renouvelables, focusing on renewable energy generation. The new entity will utilize SNCF’s extensive real estate portfolio, installing solar power plants on suitable land and buildings, generating electricity for the railways and facilities. The initially identified 1,000 hectares are expected to create 1,000 MWp of photovoltaic energy, meeting 15%-20% of SNCF’s current electricity needs.
- SNCF Renouvelables is a new SNCF subsidiary that will focus on renewable energy generation.
- This helps the SNCF reduce CO2 emissions by 30% for transport operations and 50% for buildings by 2030.
- The shift towards renewable energy for train systems is not unique to France.
The solar installations will power SNCF’s stations, industrial buildings, residential properties, and electric car charging points, and contribute to powering 80% of SNCF’s trains. This move aligns with SNCF’s goal to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% for transport operations and 50% for buildings by 2030, while also supporting regional economic growth and the EU’s solar panel industry.
Ambitious Energy Goals
SNCF, as France’s leading electricity-consuming industry, has ambitious energy goals that lie at the heart of this new endeavor. The company aims to install 1,000 megawatts-peak (MWp) of photovoltaic capacity on 1,000 hectares of land reserves by 2030, a move that will accelerate its decarbonization trajectory. The output from these installations could represent 15 to 20% of the company’s current electricity requirements, contributing to the security of its electricity supply and France’s objectives in terms of renewable energy production.
SNCF’s commitment to renewable energy is reflected in a 20-year contract signed with electricity producer EDF Renewables for the supply of renewable energy. The deal involves the construction of a 20MW farm of solar panels in Souillac, located between Limoges and Toulouse, which is set to open this year.
Building on Internal Expertise
The launch of SNCF Renouvelables has been designed and developed entirely through internal know-how, aligning closely with SNCF’s strategy. By utilizing its property assets for the benefit of rail, the company aims to ensure a carbon-free, sustainable, and cost-controlled energy supply.
Overseeing this new venture is Emmanuel Mroz, currently the Deputy Director of Energy Transition at SNCF. The strategic importance of SNCF Renouvelables is echoed by Jean-Pierre Farandou, Chairman of the SNCF Group, who stated that Launching SNCF Renewables is strategic for the SNCF Group. “We will make a major contribution to producing carbon-free electricity for the rail sector and France.”
Global Trend Towards Renewable Energy in Rail
The shift towards renewable energy is not unique to France. Around the world, railway companies are recognizing the benefits of clean energy. In the Netherlands, for instance, the national railway company, NS, has already achieved a significant milestone. Since 2017, all trains in the Netherlands have been running 100% on wind energy, making it possible for travelers to journey without CO2 emissions. NS consumes around 1.2 TWh of electricity each year to power its trains, half of which comes from the Netherlands, and the other half imported from Sweden, Finland, and Belgium.
As the world continues to grapple with the impacts of climate change, the move by railway companies like SNCF and NS toward renewable energy is a step forward. It not only contributes toward the reduction of CO2 emissions but also helps secure a consistent and cost-effective energy supply. As SNCF demonstrates, it’s an initiative that’s good for the company, the local economy, and the planet.