An environmental technology park will be built on the site of bankrupt foundries in Poitou (New Aquitaine, France). The site will be taken over by a French consortium that includes two companies: Lhyfe and TSE. According to plans, a large photovoltaic farm will be built there to power electrolyzers to produce green hydrogen. The Commercial Court in Paris this summer authorized the acquisition of land and property. The goal of the project is to revitalize brownfield sites, reintegrate them into the economy and revitalize the region.
Collapse of significant production facilities in France
The global automotive and fuel markets have been facing serious problems for several years, and the overlap of events such as the climate crisis, the covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine has intensified the destabilization.
The situation led to the collapse of large French auto parts plants. The foundries in Poitou, as they are referred to, have served a vital function in automotive supply chains, both within France and abroad. The plant employed more than 400 workers and produced thousands of internal combustion engine cylinders for many car brands.
The diesel crisis and the increase in public interest in alternative mobility solutions have caused a protracted downturn in the automotive market. Foundry managers attempted to diversify production and sought markets with growing potential, such as agriculture and sports equipment. Despite the measures taken and the support of the authorities of New Aquitaine, covering 25 percent of the financing, deteriorating market conditions and a lack of new investors ultimately caused the plant to collapse. The brownfields are to be replaced by a photovoltaic farm in the near future.
New investments the result of agreement between local authorities and communities
The land in question is the Ingrandes foundry covering 43 hectares and the Oyré landfill covering 35 hectares. Lhyfe and TSE negotiated for a year and a half with the authorities of New Aquitaine and local communities. Their goal was to reach an agreement on how to develop the land that would satisfy all parties. A full consensus has been reached on the matter, and the final project involves the construction of a state-of-the-art industrial park that will bring together cooperating entities interested in green technologies and energy transition. The project is intended to provide approx. 300 new jobs, and the cost of the investment is estimated at several hundred million euros.
Photovoltaic farm – an idea to develop degraded land
Land revitalization is a method by which degraded land can be made functional through reuse. Representatives of the consortium explain that the project involves developing the sites virtually from scratch. It will be necessary to completely demolish the existing infrastructure, which is planned to be replaced with modern elements of an ecological industrial park.
A large photovoltaic farm with an annual productivity of about 45 GWh of electricity will be built on a former landfill site acquired by TSE. In turn, the former foundry site, jointly managed by TSE and Lhyfe, will house electrolyzers to produce green hydrogen powered by energy produced by photovoltaics.
Supporting local economic development is not the only benefit of revitalization
Planned investments provide opportunities for further expansion. The production of green hydrogen on this scale justifies the operation of other entities as well, providing opportunities for growth and cooperation between companies in many other industries. The venture is generating interest among entrepreneurs. Already at this stage, several companies have expressed a desire to cooperate with the consortium, mainly in the logistics industry and producers of e-fuels made from hydrogen.
The authorities in New Aquitaine have set themselves the ambitious goal of becoming France’s first fully environmentally responsible region. As they point out, the revitalization of the Poitou foundry and the photovoltaic farm under construction there are important steps toward achieving it. Regional officials also see the revitalization of the Poitou foundry site as a way to address the difficulties caused by the industrial and economic crises faced by local communities in recent years.
A large photovoltaic farm, powering green hydrogen production, is a development opportunity for the region. However, the revitalization plan, which includes the development of land after the foundry, will also have a real national impact as an element that fits into the country’s environmental and climate strategy.