Offshore wind power, a promising technology for France

To make up for France’s delay, Emmanuel Macron promised before his re-election to accelerate the development of offshore wind power, in particular by creating 50 offshore wind farms by 2050.

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France has the world’s second largest maritime area with its 3,500 kilometers of coastline and 11 million square kilometers of maritime area, but it is nevertheless lagging behind in the field of offshore wind power, whether fixed or floating. The first wind turbine of the future Saint-Nazaire wind farm in Loire-Atlantique was laid offshore on April 12 and will be commissioned in the coming days. Ultimately, the park will have 80 wind turbines and marketing is planned by the end of 2022.

All these wind turbines, 1,000 tons each and 180 meters high, will be located between 12 and 20 kilometers off Saint-Nazaire and Le Croisic, over an overall area of ​​78 km² and at depths varying between 12 and 25 meters. To make up for France’s delay, Emmanuel Macron wants to speed up the process with the creation of 50 offshore wind farms by 2050. On March 14, Jean Castex also announced the launch of two calls for tenders for the installation of two floating wind farms in the Mediterranean by 2030: one off Port-la-Nouvelle in Aude, the other off Fos-sur-Mer in Bouches-du -Rhone. The government thus hopes to increase the share of renewable energies to 32% of French energy consumption by 2030.

An offshore wind turbine can be installed in two ways. It can be fixed on a foundation which rests on the seabed (so-called “laid” foundation), or on a floating foundation, simply connected to the seabed by anchor lines which make it possible to maintain the whole position. France seems to lean today for the second solution. “It’s a promising technology”, says Sylvain Roche, teacher-researcher at Sciences Po Bordeaux and specialist in energy issues. The floating wind turbine allows, he explains, the exploitation of the kinetic energy of the wind in deep zones where the installation of “installed” wind turbines is not feasible. They are generally installed further from the coast, around 30 kilometers offshore, which limits the environmental impact and allows the wind turbines to capture stronger and more constant winds.

At comparable power, the load factor of floating wind turbines is much higher, which increases the energy produced. Sylvain Roche also believes that the economic model is more promising because currently, even if we observe a domination of the world market by China and Great Britain, few countries exploit this technology and it can therefore represent a window of opportunity for French industrialists.

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