A unique R&D and Innovation hub in France

(FLOATGEN (BW Ideol) & WAVEGEM (GepsTechno), ©Centrale Nantes)


From research to experimental development, Pays de la Loire gathers internationally recognised public and private R&D teams across all marine renewable energy technologies.

This R&D capability is harnessed through the WEAMEC marine energy hub.

A centre of excellence: WEAMEC

The West Atlantic Marine Energy Centre (WEAMEC) brings together the marine renewables community in the Pays de la Loire region to foster research, innovation and training. The cluster and its partners have set out a Research and Innovation roadmap, a “Skills Development” roadmap and an international strategy.

WEAMEC has around 30 research members such as laboratories and organisations (including Centrale Nantes, Nantes University, “Jules Verne Research Institute”, Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique …), and approximately 75 corporate members from across the region. Over 220 businesses from France and abroad collaborate with WEAMEC.
Over 500 regional, national and European projects worth €100 million have been launched for the 2015-2020 period thanks to the expertise and test facilities made available through WEAMEC’s regional members. Around 300 engineers and researchers, just from the cluster’s academic members, work on these projects – the full time equivalent of 180 positions. Through WEAMEC calls for projects, more than 50 research projects were selected and co-funded between 2016 and 2020, worth over €10m in total. They involved 24 regional academic establishments and laboratories and around 20 small and medium sized businesses and around 10 large firms. WEAMEC is your first port of call when looking for a partner, a skill set, a test facility for your research and innovation projects, or a training course in all types of renewable energy: bottom-fixed offshore wind, floating wind, wave and tidal.

WEAMEC and many of its members are active in European networks and can therefore promote large scale project in Europe.

WEAMEC is financed by the Pays de la Loire Regional Council, the EU, CARENE and Nantes Métropole.

Internationally recognised skills and research teams

Pays de la Loire is recognised for its maritime expertise (shipbuilding, sailing, port logistics) and it still builds the world’s largest ocean liners. Drawing on this expertise and to meet the dual challenge of employment and the energy transition, businesses have taken the gamble to invest in research, training and new means of production to diversify into marine renewables. They have leveraged the academic skills available in the region in maritime engineering and marine sciences to develop a range of products and services and to break into new markets. Thanks to this industrial shift, Pays de la Loire ranks top in France for employment in the marine renewables sector (more than 1,600 jobs).

Photo : © Jean-Dominique Billaud – Nautilus

R&D departments of major groups

Innovation projects are designed to meet the needs of industry. It is no coincidence that the R&D teams of GE, Naval Energies, Atlantic Offshore Energy and Rollix – representing 500 engineers – have chosen to locate to Pays de la Loire. Startups such as Farwind, Denv-R, Akrocéan, LHyfe, GepsTechno, Dyvem logistics, Elwave, D-Ice, Nextflow Software, Dikwe have been founded in the region.

Photo : © GE Renewable

Test facilities unique in France

1 – SEM-REV: first multi-technology offshore test site

SEM-REV is the first European site for multi-technology offshore testing that is connected to the grid. It has all the equipment both offshore and on land to develop, test and enhance energy recovery systems (mainly from wind and wave sources).
It will play a decisive role in meeting the challenge of marine renewable energy development in France. Using the well-known expertise of Centrale Nantes in the scope of marine renewable energy, the strategy consists in building up a continuous and pragmatic approach to the testing of technologies, and offers the corresponding facilities and services from the initial proof of concept to the large scale testing of prototypes at sea (modelling, simulation, ocean tank experimentation, offshore testing).

The site already accommodates a floating wind demonstrator, FLOATGEN by BW Idéol and a wave demonstrator, Wavegem by GEPS Techno. Companies FMGC and Nereis Environnement also use the site to test their technology. Soon SEM-REV will house the floating wind demonstrators EOLINK and SeaLHyfe.

Floatgen: France’s first grid-connected floating offshore wind turbine

The floating wind turbine, designed by IDEOL, lies 22km off the French coast at Le Coisic and has been generating power since 18 September 2018. It is France first floating turbine and has a capacity of 2MW. An export cable connects Floatgen to the national grid. It can produce enough electricty for 5,000 inhabitants. Testing is underway for two years at the Centrale Nantes test site SEM-REV.

Wavegem: the wave energy recovery prototype
This platform, developed by GEPS Techno, harnesses the power of the waves. It does so by converting the movements of the float into electricity via the closed loop circulation of seawater which turns a low speed turbine.

Photo : © Arnaud Dréan

2 – TheoREM, GemuTech, Seanergy…: onshore test facilities for marine renewable technology

What makes Pays de la Loire stand out is its concentration of exceptional, world-class test facilities. They have supported many industrial firms in developing marine renewable projects. From digital simulation to full-scale testing, these facilities have been developed and are managed by key players in ocean engineering, electrical engineering and materials: Centrale Nantes, Nantes Université, Gustave Eiffel University (ex IFSTTAR), CEA Tech Pays de la Loire, CSTB, ENSM… They foster collaboration between business and academia, whether it be for single projects or collaborative ones.

All these test facilities are brought together as part of the WEAMEC community. You can learn more here.


Photo : IFSTTAR © Nicolas Job