Beginning in 2018, the “Les Souffleurs” social housing complex in the French city of Bordeaux has been, thanks to the installation of solar panels and batteries, producing a part of its own electricity needs.
In the first phase of the project, this has been sufficient to provide electricity for the common spaces in the building. With excess electricity sold back to the national grid. The electricity is produced by 54 solar panels, which in turn service the shared needs of the 60 homes in the building. Phase One of the project has provided an annual savings on electricity bills of around €70 per household. However, with prices expected to rise in the coming years, the savings are also anticipated to increase.
In the second phase of the project, agreed in 2021, residents are now able to consume the electricity produced in their building directly in their own home. This will help to increase the self-sufficiency of Les Souffleurs, as well as delivering even greater savings to residents from their annual electricity bill. It also boosts Les Souffleurs’ credentials as an autonomous energy community, providing inspiration for other buildings in France.
The law on collective self-consumption of energy in France requires that all producers/consumers be represented by a legal entity. To meet this obligation, Gironde Habitat (as “producer” and as “consumer” for the common parts) and the tenants of Les Souffleurs residence have created an association, whose main responsibility is to establish the distribution key that appears in the agreement signed with Enedis. This collective management, which directly includes the social tenants, lends transparency to the process, and gives residents a greater sense of ownership over the project and the use of the energy produced.