The West Atlantic Marine Energy Community (WEAMEC) brings together and supports the regional stakeholders from research and industry, helping them develop their research, innovation and training projects. Interview with WEAMEC manager, Philippe Baclet.
What does the marine renewables industry represent in Atlantic France?
We have a strong ecosystem with about 40% of France’s marine renewables sector here. That’s roughly 800 jobs in the region out of 2,000 across the board. Behind this is the presence of industrial partners who have engaged in export via Nantes Saint-Nazaire Port, a major asset in the area.
As part of this ecosystem, WEAMEC brings together industry and academia (1) for research, innovation and training purposes. The organisation covers the whole value chain including the skill base needed to operate it: ocean engineering, electrical engineering, geotechnics, advanced manufacturing technology, structural health monitoring, resource and impact assessments, human and social sciences, etc.
The region is home to reputed test facilities
In Atlantic France we have about 30 different test sites and facilities, ten of which enjoy international recognition. Some facilities work specifically on marine renewables such as the offshore multi-tech test site SEM-REV and the Centrale Nantes wave tank. Others can also make a major contribution to the development of marine renewables such as the centrifuge at Université Gustave Eiffel, the Jules Vernes wind tunnel at CSTB, the CEA Tech electrical test bench and the IRT Jules Verne mechanical test bench.
What role does WEAMEC play in the OPIN project (Ocean Power Innovation Network)?
OPIN is a collaborative project (2) aimed at boosting the growth of the marine renewables industry in Europe, helping SMEs in particular. As a consortium member, WEAMEC is tasked with setting up and running a European network to foster collaboration across different sectors and regions. One year after the project began, some 190 partners have joined the network and this figure is set to soon exceed our preliminary objective of 200 members! We are also organising OPIN’s annual symposium on 11 June in Nantes so that it coincides with Seanergy.
Talking of Seanergy, what do you hope to gain from it?
We participate in Seanergy every year as it’s a key event in the sector. As a regional industry leader, we will promote our marine renewables community and seek to broaden our ties both in France and abroad for the benefit of our stakeholders. In 5 years, we’ve achieved a 5-fold increase in annual budgets from European project calls.
(1) WEAMEC brings together around 30 members including key players such as Centrale Nantes, Université de Nantes, l’IRT Jules Verne, CEA Tech, Université Gustave Eiffel (ex–IFSTTAR), innovation clusters (EMC2, PMBA, S2E2), etc.
(2) OPIN is a three-year project with a total budget of €2.6M which includes €1.5M in financial support from the ERDF as part of Interreg North West Europe.