After France’s first offshore wind farm entered service in September 2022 off the coast at Saint-Nazaire, the country’s second one – located off Saint-Brieuc in northern Brittany – is about to follow suit. Its operator, Ailes Marines, and the Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique cluster have together issued a call for expressions of interest to the marine renewables industry in Brittany and Pays de la Loire. This call is for innovation to respond to the environmental and operational challenges of offshore wind farms – an opportunity for industry players in Pays de la Loire to showcase their capabilities.
9 % of Brittany’s electricity consumption
The Saint-Brieuc offshore wind farm is being developed by Ailes Marines, a company 100% owned by the energy company IBERDROLA. It will have an installed capacity of 496 megawatts from 62 wind turbines, which are expected to generate 1,850 gigawatt hours per year, enough power for 850,000 people, heating included. Ultimately, the wind farm is expected to supply 9% of Brittany’s electricity consumption. Installation work began in the first half of 2021, with commissioning scheduled from late 2023.
A call for innovation
One of the major challenges with offshore wind farm development involves fitting into marine ecosystems. Ailes Marines, in cooperation with the Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique cluster, is launching a call for expressions of interest for the marine renewables industry in Brittany and Pays de Loire to develop pioneering solutions to the environmental and operational challenges of offshore wind farms. The Ailes Marines call is organised into two sections:
- Recovery and processing of drifting objects at sea.
Work carried out over the last three years has highlighted the presence of drifting macro-waste, which can potentially cling to the operator’s marine structures.
The call therefore seeks solutions to minimise the impact of the floating marine waste on equipment, vessels and the marine environment in order to facilitate the construction, operation and maintenance phases of the Saint-Brieuc wind farm. It further seeks to facilitate this waste recovery and its processing.
Equipment for recovering, storing and transporting drifting or intermingled waste ashore, as well as systems for geolocating and preventing the drifting of macro-waste, may address this issue.
- Optimisation of environmental monitoring through technological innovation
IBERDROLA was one of the first companies to embrace monitoring of avifauna and marine mammals using aircraft and HD image capture and it is keen to support innovators in the field of environmental monitoring and avoid-reduce-compensate measures. Pioneering solutions to optimise biodiversity monitoring and reduce the number of interventions and campaigns at sea will be able to draw on technologies for automatic species recognition, continuous monitoring and real-time information.
Pays de la Loire – a pioneer region for marine renewables
With an offshore wind farm in operation at Saint-Nazaire since 2022, the first of its kind in France, and a second under construction off the islands of Yeu and Noirmoutier, the Pays de la Loire region is well ahead of the game in France’s marine renewables sector. With 30% of jobs in the industry nationwide in 2022 (France’s top region), it can now capitalise on proven expertise and a robust ecosystem. This includes leading industrial players (Chantiers de l’Atlantique, GE Renewable Energy, Rollix Defontaine…), a cluster (Neopolia EMR) of more than 100 industrial companies across the whole offshore wind energy value chain, cutting-edge research performed as part of WEAMEC (West Atlantic Marine Energy Community) and facilities such as the SEM-REV offshore test site, unrivalled in France.
These strengths will put manufacturers, innovative businesses and research organisations in good stead for the Ailes Marines call for expressions of interest and the wind farm development will be an opportunity for companies to upskill.