West Atlantic Marine Energy Center: a hub for international ambition

20 May 2015
Research, Education & Innovation in Pays de la Loire

A new business hub dedicated to the marine renewable energies has launched in the Pays de la Loire. Baptized the West Atlantic Marine Energy Center, it incarnates a regional strategy which has been built in collaboration with local players. The ambition: to make the region an international leader in the sector by 2020.

The marine renewable energy sector is now a concrete reality in the Pays de la Loire. Christophe Clergeau, 1st Vice-president of the Region, highlighted the arrival of “three new factories and the creation of 1,200 direct jobs” as a consequence of this strategy. But if these jobs are to be secured for the future, he went on, “the sector must be able to export its products.”

The new hub, which will promote the attractiveness of the region and the expertise of its players, will be launched at the national conference of the French Renewable Energy Association being held in Nantes. For Frédéric Grizaud, ?director of STX France’s Marine Energies Business Unit the hub will play “the role of ‘project accelerator.’ This method of organization will enable us to advance faster in the marine energy markets.”

A collaborative project

The initiative is the result of a collaborative Research-Training-Innovation project launched in 2012, to which each of the local partners—institutions of higher education and research, local government bodies, economic and industrial players, and competitiveness organizations— agreed to contribute its own particular expertise.

The project, run by the École Centrale de Nantes, the University of Nantes, the EMC2 competitiveness cluster and the Jules Verne Institute of Research and Technology, with support from the Pays de la Loire Region, and Feder (Fonds européen de développement régional, European Fund for Regional Development), will be joined in the near future by Nantes Metropole and Saint-Nazaire’s Carene.

Getting a head start

The first objective on the joint road map for 2015-2020 is to become the leader in the fixed foundation offshore turbine market, especially for sites with severe weather conditions. The issue will then be to accelerate the transition to floating turbines. In parallel, the Pays de la Loire will continue to play its pioneering role in the development of other emerging marine renewable energy technologies, such as the tidal turbine, marine thermal energy and wave power generation.

The overall budget for the West Atlantic Marine Energy Center is estimated to be €100 million over five years, with €4m. contributed by the Pays de la Loire Region of which €800k comes from the European Regional Development Fund.