France is heading towards offshore wind power with a new park inaugurated in Fécamp

France is heading towards offshore wind power with a new park inaugurated in Fécamp
France is heading towards offshore wind power with a new park inaugurated in Fécamp

Emmanuel Macron is going to the Normandy coast this Wednesday at the end of the day to inaugurate an offshore wind turbine site, while the country is lagging behind on renewable energies.

Wind power on Wednesday, nuclear power on Thursday. After starting the week with the theme of Choose France and foreign investments in France, the President of the Republic continues with that of energy, in a context of European elections. Access to abundant and cheap electricity remains one of the major assets for ensuring France’s economic competitiveness as well as its attractiveness. And a weighty political argument, hammered out for several weeks during the travels and interventions of the various members of the government concerned by the subject.

Emmanuel Macron laid the foundations for strengthening the electricity supply in France. It is based on two axes, presented in the Belfort speech in February 2022: the development of renewable energies and that of nuclear power. The inauguration of the Fécamp wind farm (Seine Maritime) this Wednesday, May 15, is fully in line with this. First Normandy park, fourth in France, it is symbolic in more than one way: 71 wind turbines stand on the horizon, between 13 and 24 km from the coast, over 60 km2. Not all of them are visible from the pebble beach of Fécamp, twin of Etretat, minus the famous needle.

However, on the renewable energy side, the observation is clear. France is lagging behind its European neighbors and its own commitments. Current installed capacities are less than 1 gigawatt. The country is targeting 4 GW in 2030, 18 in 2035 and 45 GW in 2050! Suffice it to say that we will have to work extra hard to achieve this and speed up the procedures. “The development of offshore wind power is an essential lever for decarbonization, energy sovereignty and competitiveness”insists Christine Goubet-Milhaud, president of the French Electricity Union.

New parks in sight

After the announcements made last week in Saint-Nazaire, by the Ministers of Economy and Industry, Bruno Le Maire and Roland Lescure, the President of the Republic should drive the point home. The winner of call for tender number 5 could finally be revealed. The procedure had some complications. The first winner did not submit the required financial guarantees on time, a way of discarding the price per megawatt hour (MWh) “double digits”, as Bruno Le Maire explained. However, with the increase in construction costs, the economic equation has become more complicated. It remains to be seen whether the second will meet the deadlines so dear to the Minister of the Economy. A challenge in this area.

Read alsoOffshore wind: the government’s boost

The origins of the Fécampois park date back to 2007, with the start of consultation with local stakeholders and the general public. The call for tenders was launched by the State in 2011, it was won a year later by EDF Renewables, with the Chinese Dong Energy and Alstom as exclusive suppliers of the wind turbines. From public debates to consultations, we still have to wait four years for the first work to begin. The foundations of the wind turbines, called gravity foundations, are prefabricated not far away, in the port of Le Havre, just like the wind turbines themselves. The blades, nacelles and generators of the wind turbines come from the Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy factory. An industrial sector whose future directly depends on French ambitions in the field and the country’s ability to honor them.

Nuclear ambitions reaffirmed

On Thursday, the President of the Republic will go to Flamanville, where EPR fuel loading operations have been underway since Wednesday, May 7, at 2 p.m. They should last several weeks. But beyond the technical aspect, the important thing is to see this nuclear reactor ready to enter production. It has been more than a quarter of a century since such an event took place in France. And we will undoubtedly have to wait another dozen years before the first EPR 2, wanted by Emmanuel Macron, in turn inject their first electrons into the network.

The main thing concerns the revival of the nuclear sector, which has many points in common with the deployment of renewable energies. Training must be adapted to sectors expected to create significant job creation in the years and decades to come. Otherwise, there could be a lack of resources to meet emerging needs.

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