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Ciel & Terre history : the floating solar pioneer


Ciel & Terre history is before all a collective adventure of committed men and women. All members are deeply involved in progress for a more sustainable future. How did this adventure start, with who and did we land on floating? You will find the answers here.

Ciel & Terre story : a commitment to renewable energy and innovation

Ciel & Terre was founded in 2006 by Bernard Prouvost, an entrepreneur convinced by the usefulness of innovation in the clean energy sector. Indeed, there was a need to respond to the global energy demand with green energies. Therefore, he launched several new ventures in the field of sustainable development and innovation, and then developed wind turbine farms in France before starting the Ciel & Terre journey.

Back in 2006, the French company was specialized in developing rooftop solar projects. The team was composed of no more than 6 persons : 3 engineers, 2 project managers and designers, plus a sales representative. For instance, they developed a patented racking system to ease their installation, notably for large-size roofs. But what was behind this activity? The will to deploy renewable energy projects worldwide while preserving land was already in the DNA of the company.

2016, Lille (France) – BPI interview of Bernard Prouvost, Ciel & Terre’s founder, about our innovation: floating solar

2014, UK – Sheeplands Farm floating solar plant seen from the water

Is floating solar another smart way to produce green energy for Ciel & Terre ?

From 2010, Ciel & Terre started to change its strategy. In short, the objective remained the same: build solar arrays with no impact on our precious lands. But at that specific time, a new idea came up: what if we built solar on water? That is how from roof solar the company mutated to floating solar, a milestone in Ciel & Terre history.

“I was coming home back from a business trip in Southern France, and as the train was driving and I looking at the watery landscapes, I had an epiphany: what if we installed our solar plants on disused water bodies?”


Bernard Prouvost

Ciel & Terre's founder

After 2 years of development, Ciel & Terre became the pioneer of floating solar with the first floating solar concept. At that time it was completely disruptive system which opened a new branch in the solar energy industry. Plus, it enabled us to carry further our vision : we would continue to deploy renewable energy projects worldwide, while preserving land. Of course, the integration concern really is part of our nature. However, we would simply do it differently. As a result, the water bodies we target are artificial reservoirs or anthropized environments. So more precisely at that time, we started with irrigation and quarry lakes.

The birth and history of floating solar: what happened in practice?

Ciel & Terre first product : from France to Japan

As for any transition, much (renewable!) energy is needed. In 2010, to rise to this challenge, we hired 2 full-time engineers and strengthened the commercial force. Based on several concepts, and prototypes located in Southern France, Alexis Gaveau, CEO of Ciel & Terre, originally engineer, and his team, designed the first version of Hydrelio® floating solar solution that is behind the success of Ciel & Terre today.

Back in images on a pilot in Southern France (2011). ⬇

The French story of Ciel & Terre rapidly became international. We implemented the first floating solar projects in Japan, where the history, the legal framework and the philosophy facilitated the early adoption of floating solar.

To know more about our international presence, visit

In 2013, barely 3 years after the conception of our first floating solar solution Hydrelio, we installed the first megawatt-scale floating solar plant in Japan. Consequently, considering the quick success and high potential of floating solar in the country, we decided to launch our first affiliate office there.

Ciel & Terre CEO Alexis Gaveau

2013, Japan – Alexis, Ciel & Terre’s CEO, on Okegawa floating PV plant

Ciel & Terre's world first megawatt scale floating solar project

2013, Japan – Okegawa, the world’s first megawatt scale floating solar project seen from the sky

Read more about the creation of Ciel & Terre Japan:

The story of Ciel & Terre forges ahead

Led by Alexis, and now Stéphane and Daphnée, Products & Services directors, we all believe in innovation for the sake renewable energies serving sustainable development. Therefore, we continuously improve our floating solar technologies because the history of Ciel & Terre is also about continual innovation. Today, 40 R&D engineers work on various topics related to our floating solar solutions: floating system, anchoring, validation in order to provide ever reliable floating solar solutions.  This is not to mention the dozens of other engineers dedicated to project designs, industry and logistics

With the vision to make renewable energy more accessible to be more widely spread, we will continue to deploy renewable energy projects, with very much attention to their integration into their local environments.

By Laura, Marketing

Featuring alexis, CEO & bernard, founder


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