The Pays de la Loire region has taken the lead in France’s marine renewables sector with the commissioning in September 2022 of the country’s first offshore wind farm off St Nazaire and with the construction of the Yeu-Noirmoutier wind farm. As the sector grows, it is bringing jobs, investment and business to local communities.
France’s first offshore wind farm – Saint-Nazaire
France’s first offshore wind farm was inaugurated on 22 September 2022, off the coast of Saint-Nazaire. It was developed by the consortium EDF Renouvelables and IEH S.a r.l. (a subsidiary of Enbridge and CPP Investments). With its 80 turbines, the 480MW wind farm can cover the equivalent of the annual electricity consumption of 700,000 people and provide up to 20% of Loire-Atlantique’s electricity consumption.
A second wind farm under construction in Vendée
As the Saint-Nazaire wind farm goes from strength to strength, the construction of the Pays de la Loire’s second wind farm, a bit further south off the Vendée coast, began in the summer of 2023. The consortium “Eoliennes en Mer des îles d’Yeu et de Noirmoutier ” (Emyn), made up of Ocean Winds, Sumitomo Corporation, Banque des Territoires and Vendée Energie, agreed to invest around €2.5 billion in the farm, which will be located 11.7km from Yeu and 16.5km from Noirmoutier islands. Over an area of 83km2, the 496MW wind farm will supply nearly 800,000 people with electricity each year, the equivalent of the Vendée population.
The wind farm is expected to be commissioned in the second half of 2025.
A sector with over 100 businesses across the region
These two flagship projects have shaped the sector in a region which has industry leaders and a strong network of small businesses.
- Chantiers de l’Atlantique through its specialist entity Atlantique Offshore Energy, manufactures electricity substations. In addition to the substation for the Saint-Nazaire wind farm, its Anemos plant manufactures those for France’s two other farms and has taken export orders.
- GE Renewable Energy assembled the nacelles and generators for the Saint-Nazaire farm at its plant in Montoir-de-Bretagne. This plant received a €60 million investment for an extension in order to manufacture the Haliade X, the first 14MW turbine. The group now ranks among the leading European companies for the assembly of offshore wind turbines. Its workload schedule has secured 6GW’s worth of orders up to 2025 from international clients notably American and British.
- The Vendée-based company Rollix-Defontaine is a world class manufacturer of slewing rings for blades and nacelles. It has been called on by Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy to supply the slewing rings for the 62 turbines at the EMYN wind farm.
Many French and foreign businesses have located to Pays de la Loire to join the big names already there and to seek out business opportunities: Alka Marine, Eolfi, Kopadia, Endiprev, Ys Energiés, One Sixone, WPD Windmanager, RWE, Q Energy…Local small businesses from shipbuilding and aeronautics are also contributing to sector growth such as Geps Techno, HydrOcéan and Natural Power.
More than 100 businesses work across the marine renewables value chain in the region, from environmental assessments and logistics operations to structural engineering and the fabrication of metallic parts. These businesses come together as part of the Neopolia Marine Renewables Cluster in order to bid in tenders and to secure contracts.
Jobs, investment and business
At the Seanergy forum in June 2023, the Observatoire des Énergies Marines released its annual ranking which put Pays de la Loire at the top of the French regions for marine renewables, with :
- 2 256 jobs and 30 000 employment scheme hours undertaken during the construction phases of the Saint-Nazaire wind farm. Based at La Turballe with its three maintenance vessels stationed there all year round, the operations and maintenance activities are expected to lead to around 100 new jobs.
The construction site for the EMYN wind farm will last for 2.5 years and represents 1 600 direct jobs in France, with many of them in the region :
- €860.2 million in annual sales.
- 500 R&D projects worth over €100 million in investment across the region for the period 2015-2020.
Solutions&Co organises the region’s marine renewables sectors on behalf of the Pays de la Loire Regional Council :
- Information on public support schemes.
- Introductions to national and international clients.
- Promotion of the regional industry at international trade fairs.
- Campaigns about the sector’s capabilities and news updates.
- Inward investment attraction with the Business Solutions service at Solutions&co.
- Organisation of collective lead generation missions . Expert advice on European standards and regulations with the Europe Entreprises Network.