Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Two calls for tenders for floating wind turbines in France

Written by Marie-Cécile Audibert on Tuesday, March 15th 2022 à 15:10 | Read 565 times

France is trying to catch up with floating wind turbines (photo: DR)
France is trying to catch up with floating wind turbines (photo: DR)
FRANCE. Jean Castex launched, Monday 14 March 2022, two calls for tender for the construction of two floating wind farms in the Mediterranean Sea. From Port-la-Nouvelle (30 km south of Narbonne), the French Prime Minister, accompanied by Barbara Pompili, Minister for Ecological Transition, indicated that the projects will be awarded in 2023 with a 2030 horizon for their commissioning.

After four months of public debate ( July to October 2021 ), led by the State and RTE, the manager of the public electricity transmission network, in association with the Occitanie and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur regions, the public consultation on these projects ended in November 2021.

The first park will be built twenty-two kilometres from the town of Aude and the second at the same distance from Fos-sur-Mer (Bouches-du-Rhône), near Marseille. The latter site has yet to be validated, however, depending on the results of the latest environmental studies, which are still in progress. If they prove unfavourable to the project, another site is planned off the coast of Roussillon, twenty-four kilometres from the coast.

Each of these two wind farms will have a surface area of 50 km² and will house around twenty wind turbines with a production capacity of up to 250 megawatts (MW), i.e. two to three times more powerful than those installed on land. Their combined capacity will enable one million people to be supplied with electricity. "Each wind farm could be extended in a second phase to reach 750 MW and cover 10% of the consumption of the Occitania and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur regions," explains Jean Castex.

Two pilot sites of six wind turbines each, sixteen kilometres from the coast, will be built from 2023 in Gruissan (piloted by the Eolmed consortium led by Qair, a renewable energy producer) and Leucate (Engie), two communes near Port-la Nouvelle.

No commercial offshore wind farm in France

The French government had already announced, in August 2021, the creation of a National Offshore Wind Observatory with a budget of €50m over three years. Its work began in autumn 2021 with the aim of "feeding into the planning process for the future development of offshore wind energy and responding to the concerns of stakeholders, particularly with regard to the impact on marine biodiversity and fisheries resources". It will both "enhance existing knowledge" and "launch new knowledge acquisition programmes to ensure that biodiversity issues are properly taken into account in the deployment of offshore wind power".

Today, France has no commercial floating wind farms. There are only demonstrators or pilot farms. However, a call for tenders was launched in 2021 for a wind farm in Brittany and seven projects are underway. A wind farm opposite Saint-Nazaire, developed by the EDF-Enbridge consortium, should start production in May 2022.

Jean Castex plans to "build fifty offshore wind farms between now and 2050" with a total capacity of 40 GW that could provide "20% of France's electricity consumption", the Prime Minister emphasises. The aim is to allocate 2 GW per year of projects from 2025 onwards to make offshore wind power "the second largest source of electricity in France after nuclear power", said the head of the French government. "The industry is committed to quadrupling the number of direct and indirect jobs linked to offshore wind power by 2035, to committing more than 40 billion euros in investment over the next fifteen years and to achieving a local content of 50% in projects," says a government statement.

300m support for the floating wind energy sector

Two calls for expressions of interest to "encourage the development of port infrastructures capable of hosting industrial activities linked to floating wind energy and the structuring of these industrial activities", as indicated in a Matignon press release, will be launched during the course of this month.

The first, aimed at ports, will be aimed at "developing metropolitan port infrastructures to meet the needs of the floating wind industry". The second will be aimed at industrialists to "develop equipment, construction and assembly projects. Industrial projects for factories or assembly sites could then be supported from 2023". They will be supported, to the tune of €300m, as part of the France 2030 investment plan (endowed with €34bn) including €8bn for the energy sector) presented in October 2021 by French President Emmanuel Macron, as a continuation of the Future Investment Programmes (PIA).

The first floating wind farm in the Mediterranean Sea should be operational in 2023 in the Sicilian Channel, between the Italian island and Tunisia, thirty-five kilometres from the coast. Named 7SeasMed and comprising twenty-five turbines for a total power of 250MW, it is carried by the Danish company Copenhagen Offshore Partners (COP) with the support of the Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) fund.


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