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PHOTO CAPTION: France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and Patrick Pelata of Renault, sit in an electric powered Renault car in La Réunion on Tuesday

EVs and Solar Power to Find Union in Réunion

French President Sarkozy has unveiled plan to make La Réunion an EV Island

Published: 20-Jan-2010

by: Martin Schwoerer

La Réunion is an overseas département of France, located a few hunded miles from Madagascar. It was (with a few hours' head start) the first place in Europe to introduce the Euro currency. It seems set to become the first place for widespread introduction of electric cars, as well.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday on a visit to the Indian Ocean island, that La Reéunion would become a "great laboratory" for clean mobility beginning in 2011, when French car-maker Renault is to bring out its first electric-powered automobiles. The new plan he introduced has three elements: electric cars, solar power, and charging stations.

There are six participants in the project: Renault, EDF, GBH (Groupe Bernard Hayot), Total Réunion, GE Money and the GERRI (local Réunion project group). They signed a letter of intent for experimenting with a fleet of 50 electric vehicles, and for producing electricity mainly from photovoltaic sources, as well as through wind power.

The main idea behind the project seems to be obvious: to demonstrate that the overall CO2 performance electric vehicles in Réunion will be superior to that of today’s thermal combustion and hybrid vehicles.

Another purpose of the program is to test the implementation of a network of charging stations: how many are needed? How often is normal charging speed sufficient, and how often is fast charging required?

The Réunion trial may well profit from the fact that the island has a limited geographical area. Réunion island lies 800 km (497 miles) east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, and has an area of 2,512 square kilometers (970 square miles). It is has hilly volcaneous terrain similar to Hawaii, with its highest mountain having an elevation of over 3,000m.

The French government intends to use the trial to test specific electric mobility systems aimed at company or government vehicle fleets, but also at individual customers. Lessons learnt from the project will be applied to countries or regions with similar electric systems.

In other words: an island vacation where you'll be able to "go green" is now on the horizon!

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