Marine renewables: two calls for projects to accelerate the energy transition

7 Aug 2015
L’éolien flottant, EMR d’avenir © Alstom / DCNS

The French government has just launched two new appeals for projects in the marine renewables sector. Each aims to drive innovation within the framework of the “Investments of the future” programme, which supports strategic technologies for the energy transition: the tidal turbine, whether at sea or in estuaries, wave power generation, and floating wind turbines.

The fixed foundation wind turbine was the first renewable energy technology to be widely adopted in France. Two successive government tenders set in motion six offshore wind turbine projects, two of them in the Pays de la Loire: one of 480 MW of the coast at Saint-Nazaire, the other, rated at 496 MW will lie between the islands of the Île d’Yeu and the Île de Noirmoutier.

The issue from now on is to develop those promising technologies which are not yet ripe for commercialization. Two appeals for innovation projects have just been launched to further this objective.

Four forces for floating turbines

In July, the Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy minister, Ségolène Royal, allocated four zones suitable for the installation of floating turbines. The announcement has been followed by an appeal for projects in those areas.

The EolFlo 2015 call for projects will remain open until 4 April 2016. It is destined to support the development of pilot wind farms that use floating turbines, a technology of the future which allows powerful offshore winds to be exploited with minimal environmental impact. The projected farms, each of three to six turbines rated to at least 5MW, must be grid-connected, and capable of demonstrating their technology for at least two years.

Local players are already at work on a site at the Île de Grois, within an eligible zone. The candidate bids have been overseen jointly by the Brittany and Pays de la Loire Regions.

R&D Priority

A second appeal for renewables projects to those already involved in the sector is about to be announced. The objective: to encourage innovation in the development and siting of demonstrator models, fundamental supporting technologies, and pilot farms.

This appeal comprises three sections. Firstly it seeks entrepreneurs for projects that build “innovative prototypes for the tidal turbine and wave generation sectors“, for “critical technological building blocks for the development of marine renewable energies” and for “pilot sites within France for turbine systems that are upstream from the coast” (such as estuarine or river turbine schemes).

Applicants from the Pays de la Loire will be able point to numerous local strengths already in place in support of their bids: the SemRev marine experimental site makes testing prototypes straightforward, and the region is host to the considerable experience of several companies such as the Fonderie mécanique générale castelbriantaise, the CMI group and Alstom’s Oceade 18.

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