Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Two floating wind projects to emerge in the Mediterranean

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Thursday, May 20th 2021 à 14:20 | Read 3925 times

The Occitania and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur regions will host two floating wind farm projects of 250 MW each. A public debate will start in July 2021 to validate their opportunity, impacts, characteristics and define their locations. France is ambitious in this sector, but despite the first calls for tenders nine years ago, still does not have any floating wind farms on its four coastlines.

France wants to become a leader in floating wind power (photo: DR)
France wants to become a leader in floating wind power (photo: DR)
FRANCE. The public debate on the EOS (for EOliennes flottanteS) floating wind farm projects in the Mediterranean will take place from July 12 to October 31, 2021. "It will be held upstream of the decision on whether or not to proceed with the project, and will allow the public to question its appropriateness, impacts and characteristics, including its location. The Commission conducting the public debate is independent and neutral with respect to the project owner. It will ensure that all stakeholders (professionals of the sea, tourism, industry, associations, research and training, etc. ...) as well as the general public can be informed of the project and give their opinion, "said a source close to the file, interviewed by

Decided in July 2020 by the National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP), it is orchestrated by a Special Commission for Public Debate, based in Marseille and composed of six members* and a secretariat of three people. The consultation will allow citizens to decide on the location of preferential zones (land and sea) for two wind farms of 250 MW each. Participants will have to choose between four macro-zones (land and sea) already defined as preferential. To accommodate a floating wind turbine, the bottom must exceed fifty meters in depth.


Three zones to be chosen from the four pre-selected

The four macro-zones are located off the Occitania and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur regions (Map: CNDP)
The four macro-zones are located off the Occitania and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur regions (Map: CNDP)
The four pre-selected areas in the Gulf of Lion (see map above) are located off the Eastern Pyrenees and Aude (A), off Cap d'Agde (B), off Petite Camargue (C), off the Gulf of Fos-sur-Mer (D). They are attached to land-based connection points located respectively at Baixas (northwest of Perpignan), La Gaudière (Castelnau-d'Aude) or Livière (Narbonne), Tamareau (Moutarnaud) or Montpellier, and Ponteau (Martigues) or La Feuillane (Fos-sur-Mer)

The public debate provides for the designation of at least three zones, including one in the Occitanie region and one in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. It is therefore certain that the Gulf of Fos-sur-Mer (the only macro-zone in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) will be selected. The public is also invited to choose between two 500 MW extensions with a shared connection. They will be awarded in 2024.

Two months after the end of the public debate, the Commission will deliver a report and an assessment of the public debate. Within three months, the project owner, the French government, will have to respond to the points raised. Scheduled for 2022, a competitive bidding process will then be used to select the winner or winners of these future Mediterranean business parks. Operational between 2027 and 2029, they will be based on 12 MW turbines, which will be powerful enough to limit the number of wind turbines to about 20 to reach 250 MW in each park. The extension, if accepted, will double this number.


France has no floating wind farm in service

Floatgen, the first experimental floating wind turbine is located off the coast of Le Croisic in Brittany (photo: BW-idéol)
Floatgen, the first experimental floating wind turbine is located off the coast of Le Croisic in Brittany (photo: BW-idéol)
While the WindFloat Atlantic consortium (EDP Renewables, Repsol, Principle Power and Engie) inaugurated, in early 2020, 20 km off the coast of Viana do Castelo, Portugal, the first floating wind turbine in continental Europe (3 in the long term in this park), France has no floating wind turbines in service to date. Apart from the Floatgen demonstrator of the École Centrale de Nantes off the coast of Le Croisic since 2017 and with a power of 2 MW, designed by BW-ideol in La Ciotat. And the model demonstrator (1/10th) Eolink developing 200 kW, since 2018, on the experimental site of Ifremer in Sainte-Anne-du-Portzic. Yet this country has the second largest maritime area in the world with 11 km² of sea area and four maritime facades in mainland France (East Channel, North Sea, North Atlantic, South Atlantic and Mediterranean) and intends to become one of the leaders in this new technology. "The first offshore projects in France are eight years old, but none of them are yet operational," lamented Jean-Michel Lopez, deputy director general of the Brittany region at the seventh FOWT (Floating offshore wind turbines) event in Marseille on September 7 and 8, 2020. Nine months later, the same observation can be made.

On May 10, 2021, Barbara Pompili, in a conference in Dunkirk on the subject, said, "while more than 5,000 offshore wind turbines are connected in Europe: there is simply not a single commercial offshore wind turbine running in France! Even though we have the second largest wind field in Europe. We simply don't have time to be satisfied with big goals on paper without ever embodying them on the ground." The French Minister of Ecological Transition wished that "during (his) passage as Minister of Energy that the first offshore wind farms are installed in our country." And specified, "this source of energy is one of the pillars of our strategy for the development of renewable energy. It is an essential technology to achieve our goal of 40% renewable energy in our electricity mix in 2030."

Barbara Pompili sees it as "a chance, an opportunity for French companies, especially local companies. An industrial sector is being structured: there is already a blade production plant in Cherbourg, a nacelle production plant in Montoir de Bretagne and soon a blade and nacelle construction plant in Le Havre. Not to mention the jobs related to development, installation or maintenance, which offer significant prospects for French ports."

Occitania and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, two regions with strong potential in floating wind power
At the same FOWT conference, representatives of the four French regions concerned by this development (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Occitanie-Pyrénées-Méditerranée, Brittany and Pays de la Loire) were advocating for the development of floating wind turbines.  "Floating offshore wind turbines have all the assets in the region to be one of the pillars of this energy transition. An exceptional wind resource with an average wind speed of over 40 m/s thanks in particular to the Mistral, very favorable soil conditions allowing optimal anchoring and "simple" weather-ocean conditions, with limited swell and little current and a dynamic ecosystem with many start-ups, SMEs, industrialists, and port facilities," emphasized Renaud Muselier then. The president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region aims to develop 750 KW by 2030/2031 and by 2050, to "provide with floating wind power the electricity equivalent to the production of one to one and a half solar power plants."

Voted on in December 2017, its Regional Climate Plan includes a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The development and support of offshore wind power is one of the initiatives to achieve this, with the ambition to create an industrial sector in partnership with the Grand Port Maritime de Marseille (GPMM). Eventually, 2 GW of electricity production should be provided by floating wind turbines. With its Plan Littoral 21, set up with the Occitanie Prefecture and the Banque des Territoires in 2017, the Occitanie Region also plans to become the first positive energy region in 2050 with 3 GW of energy from renewable sources.

The global market for floating wind turbines is estimated at 3,500 gigawatts (GW) worldwide, including 600 GW in Europe and 50 GW in France. Its potential is three times greater than that of conventional wind farms. According to the Pôle Mer Méditerranée, this activity could create more than 4,000 jobs in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and Occitania by 2030. In these two regions alone, some 430 players in the sector - two-thirds of which are in southwestern France - have already been identified, including Ideol (La Ciotat), Eolfi (Marseille), SBM Offshore (Monaco and Carros), Principia (La Ciotat), Valeco (Montpellier), etc. "We need to allow the sector to structure itself and allow it to amortize all the investments in R&D. Let's not make the same mistake as with photovoltaics. We are still in time for the know-how to remain here and create jobs," said Carole Delga, President of the Occitania Region.


Four pilot farms already validated

Over the past ten years, France has launched three competitive bidding procedures for offshore wind farms, which were completed in 2011, 2013 and 2016. For a total of 3.6 GW spread over five projects.

Proposed by the Ademe (French Environment and Energy Management Agency) in August 2015, as part of the Future Investment Program, a call for tenders led to the designation of winners for four floating wind farms in 2016. One will be located south of the island of Groix in Brittany (developed by Eolfi, China's CGN Europe Energy and Banque des Territoires) with three wind turbines with a capacity of €9.5 million. The other three will emerge in the South of France. EolMed off the coast of Gruissan and Port-la-Nouvelle, supported by Qair, Total (since October 2020), Arec, Calen, Le Grand Narbonne, Semper and Amidéole (3 wind turbines of 10 MW). Eoliennes flottantes du golfe du Lion (EFGL) in Leucate-Barcarès with Ocean Winds and the Banque des Territoires (3 wind turbines for 10 MW). And Provence Grand Large (PGL) in Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône with EDF Renewables and Enbridge. The latter project has been appealed and has one year to comply.

Their commissioning is scheduled for late 2022 to early 2023. Three wind turbines provide approximately the energy consumption for the equivalent of 50,000 inhabitants.

* The six members of the Commission particulière du débat public: Étienne Ballan (president), Martine Bartolomei, Mathias Bourrissoux, Sophie Bertran de Balanda, Dominique de Lauzières, Arthur Launeau.
The secretariat of the Commission particulière du débat public: Sébastien Fourmy (general secretary), Marion Galland and Antoine Landeau.

Read also: The first floating wind farm in the Mediterranean will be built thanks to the Danes


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