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A worlds first - A French town is installing a canopy of solar panels over its cemetery that will distribute energy to local residents.

The Gaia Green News - #TheGoodNews

Residents of Saint-Joachim have the opportunity to participate in an innovative community energy initiative for a mere €5. The town, nestled amidst the Brière marsh in France, is unveiling a unique project: a canopy of solar panels erected over its cemetery to supply power to the local populace.

The genesis of this idea stems from the geographical challenges faced by Saint-Joachim. The cemetery, situated on a lower elevation than the surrounding area, often succumbs to flooding during the winter months due to its location in the marshland. Traditional drainage solutions proved futile against the marsh's moisture. Hence, the mayor proposed covering the cemetery to prevent inundation, while also addressing the town's seasonal water scarcity by repurposing rainwater for irrigation.

Incorporating solar panels into the canopy not only adds an eco-friendly dimension but also harnesses electricity from what was previously an unused surface. Saint-Joachim has long been a trailblazer in renewable energy, having installed photovoltaic panels on municipal buildings as early as 2012. Building upon this momentum, the town decided to extend the benefits of solar electricity to its residents through this innovative project.

What distinguishes Saint-Joachim's initiative is its egalitarian approach to energy distribution. Unlike traditional models, where energy projects are often top-down endeavours, this scheme is a collaborative effort involving the town's citizens. Residents were actively engaged in the decision-making process, with an overwhelming majority expressing support for the project. For a nominal fee of €5, residents can become stakeholders in the project and receive a share of the electricity generated.

Implementing such a communal solar cemetery project presents logistical challenges, particularly in devising a fair distribution system for the electricity generated. Unlike typical shared solar setups involving a handful of participants, this project involves over 1,000 connections. To ensure equitable distribution, a bespoke algorithm will allocate electricity based on consumption patterns, facilitating fair billing for all participants.

Beyond its practical benefits, the project embodies a spirit of community collaboration and environmental stewardship. While some may find the notion of generating electricity in a cemetery unconventional, the primary goal remains addressing the town's pressing needs while fostering sustainability. The semi-transparent canopy design not only allows light to filter through but also symbolises a beacon of progress and resilience for the town.

Financed entirely by the municipality, the €3.35 million installation signifies a significant investment in the town's future. With completion slated for summer 2025, Saint-Joachim's solar cemetery promises to provide its residents with affordable, renewable energy, marking a milestone in the town's journey towards self-sufficiency and environmental consciousness.

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