Plateau D’Albion: from nuclear base to renewal energy site

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4 August, 2021

Back in the late 1950’s, French President Charles De Gaulle created the so-called Force de Frappe (strike force), later called Force de dissuasion, a nuclear defense with planes, submarines, and surface-to-air missiles intended for deterrence, and fully independent of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The land-based component of this nuclear triad was added in 1971, with eighteen silo-based S2 medium-range ballistic missiles. These were replaced in the early 80s by S3 – intermediate range – and, in 1982 a first 9-missile group was deployed at the air base on the Plateau D´Albion in the southeast of France. This location was chosen thanks to the low population density and subsoil suitable for anchoring the underground missile silos and withstand the shock wave in the event of a nuclear attack.

In 1996, these eighteen silos were deactivated, shutting down the base at the Plateau d'Albion, as part of the defense spending cuts ordered by President Jacques Chirac. By 1999 the silos and facilities were fully dismantled and handed for civilian purposes.

The Plateau is now home of an Aerospace laboratory, a space surveillance radar, and even a Michelin star restaurant. Moreover, it is a space repurposed for the production of sustainable, renewable energy, becoming a site for solar photovoltaic power stations.

Sonnedix is the proud owner and operator of a total of seven solar PV plants within the Plateau. In mid-July, 2021, we have started operations at 8.9 MW “Simiane” cluster of three solar PV plants in the Plateau - Lavansol III, Lavansol IV, and Lavansol VI - all ground mounted and powered by almost 25,000 solar modules.

By giving a new purpose to a former nuclear site in the Plateau d’Albion, converting it into a source of clean energy, we fulfil our role as a social citizen, true to our ESG standards and strong commitment to protecting and enhancing the environment, and improving the life of the communities within which we operate.

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