A photovoltaic park at the Chambley base (54)

An information meeting is scheduled at Hagéville town hall this Friday, March 15, 2024, concerning the installation of a photovoltaic farm at Chambley Planet’Air that could compromise aeronautical activity. Explanations.

Is the project to install a vast field of photovoltaic panels on the Chambley-Bussières air base in Meurthe-et-Moselle compatible with aeronautical activity (over 500 licensees) and therefore with the socio-economic activity of the sector, which employs over 300 people?

Safety risks

We’re in favor of this project,” says Georges Humeau, president of the ULM Club and chairman of the base users’ association, which groups together five associations and five professionals. But it’s badly put together and needs to be corrected, because the panels are planned for 70 of the 486 ha of the base, on the north side, where the aeronautical activities are concentrated (200 ha). However, the areas in the southern part that would have no impact on safety or on our activities are being ignored by the project’s sponsors”.
The users’ president points out that if this photovoltaic park goes ahead, the European Microlight Championships and the Mondial Air-Ballons in 2025 will be jeopardized. As would air shows, parachuting, paragliding, kitesurfing and other aerial sports. Everything that flies, from the smallest to the largest aircraft, flies at Chambley,” stresses Etienne Schertz, deputy of the commune of Hagéville, which covers 288 ha of the base, including the aeronautical section. There are 25,000 air movements a year. It’s the biggest in Europe. A field of photovoltaic panels would jeopardize many things, including air safety and the development of the site.

A gas factory

The Chambley photovoltaic park project is being promoted by the Grand Est region with the help of the Paris-based semi-public company (SEM) SIPEnR. The company is chaired by Parisian politician Florence Crocheton Boyer and managed by Delphine Bertsch. The SEM is itself assisted by a Lyon-based urban planning firm, EGREGA. In this €65 million project, the Grand Est region is a 30% shareholder in an SPV (a mutual receivables fund), the SEM SIPEnR 60% and Energie Partagée Investissement (EPI) 10%.
At the Grand-Est region, Célia Blauel is head of the Chambley project. More officially “strategic project manager, prefiguration of a tool for investment in non-renewable energies (EnR)”. Célia Blauel is a former deputy mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and an EELV member. She reports to Sabine François, Deputy Director General for Transitions, and to the Region’s DGS.
The air base belongs to the Grand Est region. The platform is managed by the Société Publique Locale (SPL) Madine-Chambley, chaired by Philippe Mangin and comprising the Region, the Meuse, Moselle and Meurthe-et-Moselle départements, the communities of communes of Mad-et-Moselle, Côtes de Meuse-et-Woëvre, Metz-Métropole and Nancy-Métropole. It is this SPL that would have validated the perimeter of the billboard installation in the aeronautical area.

The mayors’ opinion

With a total panel surface area of 70 ha (including around 54 ha on the ground and 16 ha in the shade), the project, as conceived, is based on an output of 50 Megawatt-peak on the ground and 20 MWp in the shade. Production will then be connected to the grid.
But before that can happen, the project’s promoters have to clear a few hurdles. They need a building permit from the French government, and approval from the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC). The building permit must comply with the local PLU (plan local d’urbanisme) and be approved by the mayors concerned. Not forgetting the base’s users.
In short, there are still long negotiations to be conducted with all the stakeholders, not all of whom are necessarily in favor of this huge photovoltaic farm.
Chambley Planet’Air, in Meurthe-et-Moselle, is well known beyond our regional and national borders, thanks to the phenomenal success of the Mondial Air Ballons (GEMAB), previously run by Philippe Buron-Pilâtre and his wife, and now taken over by the ABC group.
It should be noted that the Chambley photovoltaic panel operation is purely financial, with each party reaping dividends in proportion to its initial investment.

Chambley photovoltaic project

Mondial Air Ballons en 2019
Mondial Air Ballons en 2019


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