Image: ESA

Solar PV and biomass are to be deployed to reduce energy costs and ‘green’ Europe’s Spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana.

The introduction of solar fields of up to 10MW peak is planned by the start of 2023, followed by two biomass units the same year with the intention of utilising the waste heat for cooling buildings.

The Spaceport 700km2 in extent comprises a satellite launch range, three operational launch complexes with another under development for Ariane 6, and propellant manufacturing plants. Together they draw up to 20% of French Guiana’s energy supplies.

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About half the power at the base is used to cool buildings while energy-intensive solid and liquid propellant processes take up most of the rest. The yearly bill is several million euros.

The European Space Agency (ESA) with France’s CNES space agency, plan to cut costs by reducing the reliance on the French Guiana grid. The new renewable energy sources are intended to provide 90% of the electricity consumed at the base by end of 2025.

They also are anticipated to save about 50GWh per year, reducing the carbon footprint by about 45,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

“Solar panels would in the first instance, allow a technology learning curve. Further extending the number of panels would bring additional power to the Spaceport to supplant an aging French Guiana grid by 100% green energy,” said Teddy Peponnet, CSG Renewable NRJ transition project manager at the Spaceport.

“In the future, solar energy would be used to recharge fuel cells at the Spaceport. Biomass units, installed and operated by a third party, would also supplement the French Guiana grid.”

A workforce of 250 people will work on the biomass overall cycle, which will utilise dead wood, according to a statement.

In addition to these developments, industrial operators are playing a major role. This summer, industry supported by ESA, implemented specific energy saving memorandums of understanding with EDF SEI, the local energy provider. These protocols enable them to collect energy rebates which will be reinvested for greater launchers competitiveness and carbon footprint improvements on site.