Offshore wind farms in France: simplified legislation to speed up the energy transition
Today, it takes eight to ten years on average to complete an offshore wind power project. This is twice as long as in neighbouring European countries. The simplified law, which the government sent to the players in the green sector on 12 August 2022, aims to speed up renewable energy developments in France over the next four years. The law proposes “exceptional and transitory measures” to simplify the administrative formalities and avoid excessive delays. It will limit the number of appeals (which delay more than one third of projects), which will be subject to a 10-month cap. It will also create a one-stop digital service to facilitate exchanges between government departments and the project owners. The law will come before the French cabinet in September and will be read by the French parliament in October 2022.
Why is offshore wind power taking off now?
- Because the political and energy context demand a faster transition to energy autonomy in France and the development of renewable energies.
- Because wind power is competitive. Production costs decreased faster than expected by 9% between 2019 and 20201.
- Because France has set itself the ambitious target of reaching an installed offshore wind power capacity (bottom-fixed and floating) of 2.4 GW in 2023, about 5 GW in 20282 and 40 GW in 2050.
- Because technological progress has enabled the power of wind turbines to be increased.
- Because France can call on its domestic industrial capacity to manufacture turbines and blades, and on its port infrastructures to contribute to the development of offshore wind power.
Did you know? Offshore wind power creates jobs all over the country. The sector employed 6,500 workers in 2021 and could create up to 20,000 direct and indirect jobs in France by 20353.
How is the offshore wind power sector organised in France?
The French offshore wind power industry is made up of SMEs and major corporations. About 17% of them are pure players, while the others operate in the construction, energy, shipbuilding or logistics industries. If the sector succeeds in growing, it will be thanks to the efforts made by businesses to diversify by transforming their means of industrial production to make the components of offshore wind farms. The para-oil industry in France boasts high-performance technologies, making it a leading player in the development of anchoring systems for floating wind farms. Likewise, the Eiffage Metal factory in Fos-sur-Mer, which was threatened by closure, has found a new market for steel barges for the floating wind farm in the Mediterranean, off the coast near Leucate.
At the same time, new production plants are opening, like the General Electric Renewable Energy factory in Saint-Nazaire in 2014, which now employs more than 450 people to make the nacelles and generators for the Saint-Nazaire offshore wind farm.
The Siemens Gamesa plant in Le Havre, which opened in 2022, is the first factory in the world that produces offshore nacelles and blades. Of the planned 750 direct and indirect jobs, 500 have already been filled. The plant will make the equipment for the future wind farms, including the three Ocean Winds farms at Yeu-Noirmoutier, Dieppe-Le Tréport and in the “Golfe du Lion”.
Which trades are required?
The sector includes numerous trades, ranging from construction, to operations and maintenance: electricians, coordinators of maritime operations, engineers, HSE specialists (Health, Safety and the Environment), technicians, ship captains, operations managers, etc.