French Guiana: from power plant project to zone to defend

Since November, natives have been blocking this power plant project, which aims to produce electricity. They say they have not been consulted and want the site to be built elsewhere. This would put an end to the project.

The information had gone unnoticed in France. A few months ago, the government was still citing this project* as an example. It was initiated by HDF Energy and it is the largest of its kind in the whole world. Its commissioning was scheduled for mid-2024.

In an article, ‘L’Usine Nouvelle’, a weekly French business magazine, takes stock of the situation. It states that “natives inhabitants of the ‘Prospérité’ village, joined by those of other Amerindian nations, invaded the construction site of the French Western Guiana Power Plant (CEOG**) located 2.6 kilometres away from their village, and where HDF Energy was starting to clear the land to build the world’s most powerful solar park with hydrogen storage.” Under pressure from the population, the clearing machines had to leave. Since then, the site has become a “resistance zone” under the slogan “the forest is our home.” The population wants the power plant, which starts 1.6 kilometres away from the village, to be moved. They are claiming that they were not consulted on the subject.

As for HDF energy, it is defending its project. In a press release, that you can read on their website, the company maintains that “the location of the CEOG project, determined in full consultation with the local authorities and stakeholders, was the only one to satisfy all the technical criteria and the urban planning and environmental rules.” Furthermore, it “respects the hunting and feeding grounds of the village Prospérité and its inhabitants.” The press release mentions the name of the village chief, who was consulted from the beginning of the project and never opposed it in four years.

The director of CEOG, Thierry Déau, seems dejected. Highlighting “a long consultation process” he asserts that “it is a clean power station, which will produce renewable and stable electricity, and will avoid untimely power cuts, which are frequent in western Guyana, as well as the use of numerous highly-polluting generators.”

France Guyane, a daily newspaper headquartered in Cayenne, has written several articles on this thorny subject. We learn that the Syndicat Mixed of Energy* of French Guiana is in favour of this project, while the local ecologist party is against it.

It should be remembered that the project aimed to develop a power station to produce stable, guaranteed and non-polluting electricity to supply the equivalent of 10,000 homes all year round, day and night, at a cost that is competitive with the current cost of production in western Guyana. Consisting of a photovoltaic solar park and a massive energy storage unit in the form of hydrogen, it would consume only sunlight and water and reject only water vapor.

On its website and social networks, HDF Energy makes no mention of this blockage. The company, which has just celebrated its 10 year anniversary, is “developing a business portfolio of more than €5 billion to date (about $5.27 billion).”

*HDF is the designer of the ‘Renewstable’ power plants, its flagship model, multi-megawatt power plants producing continuous electricity from intermittent renewable energies (wind or solar) and massive energy storage in the form of green hydrogen generated on site.

**CEOG: Centrale Électrique de l’Ouest Guyanais

***A ‘Syndicat Mixte’ is a joint venture between various public authorities of different types.

Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Logan King

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About the author

Marina Leite

Marina Leite

As a Brazilian passionate about languages, human rights and environmental issues, I hold a Bachelor's degree in Applied Foreign Languages with a major in International Economic Development. Drawing on my experience as a content creator on social networks, I joined Seiya Consulting and H2 Today in June 2022, first as an intern, then as Marketing & Communications Manager and designer.

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