Pays de la Loire is a key region for marine renewables in France. It will see the Saint-Nazaire wind farm commissioned by the end of 2022 and the Yeu and Noirmoutier wind farm by 2026. This is all thanks to 12 years of strong political backing and a committed business and industrial ecosystem. During this time, engagement has been ongoing with the various stakeholders; including national government services, local authorities, sea users, port authorities and the fishing community. The offshore developments are set for 25 years of service.
Saint-Nazaire wind farm
The Saint-Nazaire wind farm was selected during the first French government’s tendering round in 2011 and it will be the country’s first operational offshore wind farm. Its developers are EDF Renouvelables-EIH S.a.r.l. (held by Enbridge Inc. and CPP Investments). Each of the 80 turbines is fixed to the seabed with monopiles and will provide 6MV of capacity, making a total of 480MW. Located 12 to 20km off the coast of Loire-Atlantique, the site covers an area of 78km2 in waters 12 to 25m deep.
Subsea cables will connect the turbines to an offshore substation, which in turn will be connected to the national grid at Prinquiau. Power generation is expected to reach 1.6TWh/a year, about 20% of the Loire-Atlantique’s electricity needs.
The wind farm is almost finished. The works, which began in 2019, have been undertaken in 4 stages in order to reduce disruption to other sea users, especially fishermen. One measure, a world first, has been to provide two passages – each 1.5 nautical miles wide – allowing vessels to sail though the construction site.
In spring the first turbine foundations were sunk and in the summer the inter-array cabling was completed. The substation, built by Atlantique Offshore Energy in Saint-Nazaire, was installed in August 2021. The wind turbines should be operational by the end of 2022. Their nacelles and generators are made locally too, by General Electric at Montoir-de-Bretagne.
La Turballe will be the farm’s operations and maintenance base where three maintenance vessels will be stationed.
This wind development comes under a broad industrial plan that is expected to create some 7,000 jobs in France. So far, 2,300 have been created with two thirds of these based in Pays de la Loire. In addition, 30,000 hours of work have been accomplished by people on the labour market.
Once the wind farm becomes operational, about 100 jobs in maintenance will be created.
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Yeu and Noirmoutier wind farm
This wind farm project was selected in the second tendering round in 2014 and is due to be commissioned in 2025. The consortium behind the development is led by Ocean Winds, a joint venture comprising Engie, the Portuguese energy provider EDP Renouvelables, the Japanese group Sumitomo and Banque des Territoires. The wind farm will possess 62 turbines of 8MW, totalling 496MW. It will span an area of 83km2 located 11.7km from Ile d’Yeu and 16.5km from Noirmoutier.
It is expected to generate 1,900 Gwh/year, enough to meet the annual electricity consumption of nearly 800,000 people. That’s more than the population of the Vendée region. Construction of the wind farm will take place in different stages and will begin around 2023. First, the monopiles and foundations will be installed. These will support the 62 wind turbines. Then the electrical substation’s foundations will be installed. Following this, the substation’s grid connection will be set up, then the subsea cables. And lastly, the wind turbines themselves will be installed.
The maintenance bases will be located in Port-Joinville (Ile d’Yeu) and L’Herbaudière (Noirmoutier).
About fifty businesses from the region have already been approached for the development. In the coming years, several dozen jobs could be created in Vendée to prepare the construction site. The array’s operation and maintenance will also create jobs. In addition, the construction of the wind turbines at the Siemens Gamesa plant in Le Havre will create some 750 jobs, as will the fabrication of other key components of the farm.