The French government has this week reaffirmed its commitment to wind energy, announcing winners of its third onshore wind energy auction in which it awarded 516 megawatts (MW) of capacity, only days before it finally launched the long-awaited development of the 480 MW Saint-Nazaire offshore wind farm.
On Wednesday, France’s Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition announced winners from its third onshore wind tender, awarding a total of 516 MW to 21 projects across the country. The average weighted price from the tender was €63 a megawatt-hour (MWh), down from €65.4/MWh and €68.7/MWh recorded in the previous two auctions.
“The development of onshore wind energy is a pillar of France’s energy and climate strategy and a key lever for decarbonising energy production and achieving the goal of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” said François de Rugy, Minister of State, Minister for Ecological Transition and Solidarity. “I am delighted to once again support the development of the sector through the selection of 21 new projects that will make it possible to install 150 new wind turbines on the territory.”
Included in the winning tender recipients was Canadian renewables developer Boralex, who revealed on Wednesday that it had been awarded three projects totaling 68.2 MW — the 25.2 MW Bois des Fontaines wind project, the 20 MW Helfaut wind project, and the 23 MW Caumont Chériennes.
“Wind energy as an economically and technically viable solution in the French energy transition is unquestionable and this third tender period is further proof of this,” said Nicolas Wolff, Vice-President and General Manager of Boralex Europe. “We believe that France is—and will remain—a major market for the development of our renewable energy projects, which are structuring and promising for the country’s economy.”
A day later, François de Rugy again made headlines for his Ministry when he launched the first offshore wind farm project, the Saint-Nazaire offshore wind project set to be built off the coast of Dunkirk and boasting a nameplate capacity of 480 MW.
“With the launch of the Saint-Nazaire park project today, France is finally entering the age of offshore wind turbines,” declared François de Rugy. “By 2022, 80 wind turbines installed off Saint-Nazaire will provide 20% of the electricity of Loire-Atlantique. It’s a first in France.
“But we do not stop there, we accelerate,” de Rugy continued. “Today, we are also initiating the Dunkerque park project, at a rate comparable to the best European results, which demonstrates the competitiveness of the French sector. Tomorrow, we will launch and award larger projects: 1 GW per year, compared to 750 MW originally planned in the Multi-Year Energy Program, by working with all the territories.”
France already has several projects intended to contribute towards its new gigawatt-target, and three tenders for commercial floating wind farms on the horizon. Specifically, a tender for a 250 MW floating offshore wind farm will soon be launched, to be developed south of Brittany in 2021, and two further 250 MW tenders will be launched in the Mediterranean in the Occitanie and PACA regions.
Development of the 480 MW Saint-Naziare offshore wind farm will be conducted by a consortium composed of EDF Renouvelables, Innogy, and Enbridge. The news comes only days after the final legal restrictions were dismissed in court, allowing development to continue.
“The Conseil d’Etat’s decision is a ringing endorsement of the robust groundwork undertake by EDF Renewables’ and Enbridge’s teams which have been working for 10 years with professionalism, openness and dedication on bringing the Saint-Nazaire offshore wind project through to fruition,” said Bruno Bensasson, EDF Group’s Senior Executive Vice President, Renewable Energies and Chairman & CEO of EDF Renewables. “I also wish to salute the backing for the project we received from the local parties. It allowed us to be ready to open the way for marine renewable energies to take shape in France. It will deliver a boost to the local economy. This landmark project fits perfectly with the EDF Group’s Cap 2030 strategy of doubling its worldwide renewable energy capacity in operation by 2030. We hope that it will be the first step towards an accelerated growth trajectory for offshore wind energy in France in the framework of the PPE [multiannual energy program].”