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France commissions first wind farm offshore Brittany

The newly commissioned Saint-Brieuc wind farm is the second fully operational wind farm offshore France, following the inauguration of the Normandy-based Fécamp wind farm last month, and is the first to be located offshore Brittany. The project’s commissioning also comes just weeks after France announced the winners of the world’s first commercial-scale floating offshore wind auction.
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The Saint-Brieuc wind farm has a total capacity of 496 MW and its 62 wind turbines are now feeding into the national electricity grid, managed by RTE. To date, the 8 MW turbines are the most powerful to be installed on an offshore wind farm in France, according to operator Iberdrola.


Saint-Brieuc is expected to produce around 1,820 GWh/y, equivalent to some 9% of Brittany’s total electricity consumption.


Last year France raised its offshore wind target for 2050 to 45 GW, with an intermediate target of 18 GW by 2035.


The country has 15 further offshore wind projects in the pipeline for 2035, three of which are in the process of being built: Yeu/Noirmoutier (500 MW), Courseulles-sur-Mer (450 MW) and Dieppe/Le Tréport (500 MW). Two offshore wind auction rounds of 1.2 GW and 1.5 GW will be launched this summer, while a broad stakeholder consultation to be finalised this year will inform the French government about suitable sites for offshore wind development up until 2050. As a result of this consultation, an auction round (AO10) for up to 8–10 GW of capacity could be prepared later this year, notes industry association WindEurope.


Floating offshore wind auction
France announced the winners of the 250 MW South Brittany floating offshore wind auction last month. It was the first time a country offered a contract for difference (CfD) for floating wind.


The French auction was won by a consortium of BayWa re and Elicio, with a winning bid awarded at a strike price of €86/MWh. The tendered 250 MW site, at depths of 60–100 metres, will not only be the biggest floating offshore wind farm in Europe upon completion, it will also more than double Europe’s current floating offshore wind capacity, according to WindEurope.


‘Floating offshore wind is key to unlocking offshore sites with water depths of 60 metres and more,’ says the Association. ‘In these areas floating offshore wind turbines are more cost-competitive than traditional bottom-fixed turbines. As such, floating offshore wind holds the key to offshore wind development in large parts of the Atlantic, the Celtic Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Norwegian Sea and other sea basins with higher water depths.’


So far, Europe has only installed small demonstrator and pilot projects, accounting for some 200 MW in total. Four projects stand out: Kincardine and Hywind Scotland in the UK (30 MW each), WindFloat Atlantic in Portugal (25 MW) and Hywind Tampen in Norway (95 MW).


As noted, the South Brittany auction was the first commercial-scale floating offshore wind auction seeking public financial support in Europe. Many more auctions are planned. WindEurope reports that France is expected to announce the winners of two other 250 MW sites in the Mediterranean in December; while Spain, Portugal, Norway, Greece and Italy are all moving towards their first floating wind auctions. The UK has tendered sea space for over 15 GW of floating projects and just opened another seabed leasing round for 4.5 GW of floating wind.


However, challenges remain, warns the Association. Norway has postponed its first floating tender – the 1.5 GW Utsira site. Spain is consulting on an offshore wind law, which pushes back its first auction. Italy still hasn’t approved its ‘FER2’ decree which will set its auction timetable, while the change of government in Portugal has put back its first auctions.


‘Europe risks losing its leading position for floating wind. By 2030 Europe can now expect to have at best 3 GW of floating wind in operation. And that requires the relevant auctions to be completed by 2025,’ notes WindEurope Chief Policy Officer Pierre Tardieu.


In other news
In the North Sea, RWE has made the investment decision for its non-floating 1.6 GW Nordseecluster project, which will be implemented in two phases. The first will have a capacity of 660 MW and is due to be commissioned in 2027; the second 900 MW development is due to be commissioned at the beginning of 2029.


Meanwhile, the UK’s offshore wind industry is set to benefit from increased early-stage investment in its supply chain through the launch of The Crown Estate’s Supply Chain Accelerator, a new £50mn fund. The UK offshore wind project pipeline grew by 10 GW in 2023 to 93 GW, according to The Crown Estate. ‘The government estimates that 125 GW could be needed by 2050 to meet net zero, hence investment in the UK’s supply chain is crucial if the industry is to remain competitive in the face of global efforts to decarbonise energy networks,’ it says.

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