While France has a considerable length of coastline, there are, as yet, no functioning offshore wind farms. But plans are advanced to change this. There are a total of four projects, totalling 2Gw, that had tenders awarded in 2012 and another tender round will occur this year.
Sometime in the middle of this year Eolien Maritime France (EMF- a consortium of EDF Energies Nouvelles and Dong Energy) should get the necessary permits for three projects:St-Nazaire (480MW), Courseulles-sur-Mer (450MW) and Fecamp (498MW). It will also tender this year for the offshore substations, cables and turbine installation for all three projects.
The fourth project, St-Brieuc (500MW), is owned by Iberdrola and Eole-RES. We understand it is being redesigned for Areva’s 8MW turbine rather than the lower powered 5MW unit originally envisaged. Upon receiving the French government’s approval for this upgrade, the consortium will have until October to start the permitting process.
French energy minister Segolene Royal (pictured below) has announced a third tender call to be held this year, but with locations and capacity yet to be decided.
It has been recognised that the tender process and permit-seeking takes too long. Consequently the government is reviewing the tender process in order to encourage competition and drive down costs, and is also simplifying the regulatory process for offshore wind. Later this year (or early next year), the government is expected to issue decrees allowing regional authorities to grant a single permit covering the facility, inter-array cables and offshore substations, with another permit for grid connection.
Royal is also expected to issue another decree to speed up deployment this year by establishing a single administrative court to handle legal cases concerning offshore wind projects. Why? Because under the present system, appeals can still be launched after the project has come into operation! This makes it almost impossible for developers to secure finance for such projects.
Turning to turbines, Alstom’s new factory at St-Nazaire will come into full production this year, manufacturing the nacelles and generators for its 6MW Haliade machine. By the end of 2015 the company plans to build a turbine blade factory, in partnership with LM Wind, and a tower factory at Cherbourg.
France is also pushing ahead with floating foundation research, and the government will launch a call for expressions of interest in a few months to build a pilot project. A prototype of Ideol’s Floatgen platform, equipped with a 2MW Gamesa turbine, should be installed at the Croisic test site this summer.
Ideol’s Floatgen platform