Marine renewables in Atlantic France: great news for an industry on the rise

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© Heos-Marine - Nicolas Job

The marine renewable energy industry is consistently moving forward in Atlantic France. Over the past few months, we have started to turn a corner with the commissioning of the offshore wind farm in Saint-Nazaire and several other projects which are leading us in the right direction!

The first fully operational offshore wind farm, and more to come

The last of 80 wind turbines at the Saint-Nazaire offshore wind farm were installed in early September by EDF Renewables, Enbridge Inc. and CPP Investments. The first offshore wind farm in France produces a total power of 480 megawatts and can provide 20% of the electricity consumed in the Loire-Atlantique department.

Another offshore wind farm will be installed in Atlantic France by 2024. Located off the islands of Yeu and Noirmoutier, the future Vendée wind farm will have 62 Siemens Gamesa 8 MW wind turbines and will provide electricity to nearly 800,000 people, which is more than the population of the department. French public company RTE began working on the electricity connection on land this summer, and the EMYN consortium, which is leading the project, recently announced its choice of subcontractors for this €2 billion project. The electrical substation, a central element of the wind farm, will be built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

France is aiming to build 50 offshore wind farms. When Emmanuel Macron visited the one in Saint-Nazaire, the President of the Regional Council, Christelle Morançais, told him that Atlantic France was a candidate for the installation of a third offshore wind farm, of which would be a floating wind farm this time round.

A port that grows with the marine renewables sector

Nantes Saint-Nazaire Port served as an assembly site for the first offshore wind farm in France, and the operation was a great success. The work was completed 43 days ahead of schedule, and the port proved its ability to meet the needs of the marine renewable energy sector. It was recently announced that the facilities will also be used for the Yeu-Noirmoutier offshore wind farm, and Nantes Saint-Nazaire Port has launched a major project called Eole, which represents over €200 million in investments.

The expertise acquired during the preparation of these two wind farms, as well as the favourable conditions for offshore wind power on the Atlantic coast of France, allows Nantes Saint-Nazaire Port to envision the future with optimism. According to its forecasts, the region is expected to host 20 to 30 GW of fixed or floating wind power.

A business-friendly location for companies specialising in renewables

The dynamism of the marine renewables industry in Atlantic France is attracting companies and there have been several noteworthy examples in recent months. For instance, Kraken Subsea, a Parisian company with an international dimension, has opened an office in Nantes and brings a new skill to the regional value chain: engineering for the installation of submarine cables.

Nantes has also been selected for the installation of an office by the Avignon-based company Qenergy, which develops, builds, and operates wind and photovoltaic parks. “Nantes is the place to be!“, according to Francisco Varela, Director of Development, who highlights the quality of the schools in Atlantic France that train specialised talents in marine environments and in offshore engineering, as well as the ecosystem of SMEs that has been developed to support the growth of the marine renewables sector.

The main city in Atlantic France has also been chosen by the Danish engineering company Creadis, a leader in the field of onshore and offshore wind energy, for its first France-based establishment. Last but not least, the region also attracts foreign investors for its innovative companies: the British consultancy firm ABL Group took full control over the marine renewables engineering company Innosea and the American group Meta chose the GEPS Techno autonomous platform to improve its submarine cables.

State-of-the-art testing resources to boost innovation

In Atlantic France, we have a unique offshore test site, Sem-Rev, which is managed by Centrale Nantes. A promising partnership was concluded with Lhyfe in order to produce sustainable hydrogen offshore. The site has been used since 2018 for Floatgen, the first floating wind turbine to be tested under real conditions in France, and will now also host the innovative floating wind turbine Eolink.

In order to make this offshore testing site even more efficient, new investments have been approved (around €15 million) and work will be carried out to increase the capacity of the cables and to upgrade the platform. In addition, Centrale Nantes has created a non-profit scientific foundation, Open C, which will bring together France’s offshore testing sites in order to develop the mutualisation and coordination of investments.

Creating a business ecosystem for marine renewables professionals

In Atlantic France, we have been promoting the marine renewable energy industry for many years, but also tightening the bonds between local companies in the sector. This led to the creation of the business cluster Neopolia EMR, which brings together more than 100 industrial companies, and also to the creation of an online skills directory that has been translated into English recently.

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