Wind power in France: why the transition will accelerate
France is fully engaged in achieving its green and energetic transition with an investment of €9.5 billion in new energies! Wind power in France is one of the pillars of this strategy, both with creating onshore and offshore wind farms. €400 million are dedicated to helping disruptive innovative solutions in photovoltaics, offshore wind power, heat pumps, and energy networks. The ambition is to increase production capacity by 40GW by 2028 and create a 1 GW offshore wind farm in coastal Normandy (representing 20% of French offshore wind power production).
Renewable energies in Europe: a priority
Wind power is a staple of energy transition policies in Europe, and France does not make an exception to that trend. The French government set 32% of renewable energy produced through legislation and a diminution of 40% carbon emissions by 2030.
More specifically, the objectives are more detailed for wind energy through the Multiannual energy program (PPE): in 2023, the French onshore windfarms should aim to produce 24 600 MW, while offshore ones should seek 2 400 MW. In the long run, for 2028, the production is expected to reach 35 600 MW onshore and 5 200 MV offshore. In January 2019, France was the fourth European country for wind energy production, with 15,3 GW. To reach 34 GW’s goal by 2028, France is set to ramp up its investments in wind farms, both on- and offshore.
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The French government relies on different types of support measures for national and foreign wind power actors:
- The obligation for energy distributors to buy wind power energy at a fixed rate contracted for 12 to 20 years is to provide growth and profitability for all the sector actors.
- The Remuneration complement was created in 2017. It is a remuneration provided by the State in addition to the revenue generated by electricity sales. By design, it is more aimed at small and medium installations that fit the needed criteria.
- The support for R&D policies is provided by mechanisms not specific to the wind energy sector: the investment program for the future, the research tax credit (CIR). Since 2009, the French energy agency has launched several calls for projects around wind energy.
Normandy has both support and assets in the wind power
The Normandy region has brought longstanding support to wind energy, reflected by the ambitious goals to increase its use and rewarded by installing three offshore projects in its waters.
As of late 2019, Normandy has 836 MW of wind energy potential, with 119 different installations, compared to the 6 128 MW produced by Denmark in the same year. The production for 2018 topped up at 1 473 GWh, representing 5,30% of the region’s electricity consumption. Even if Normandy is currently not ranked among the best performers in wind energy production, it is bound to improve significantly due to its untapped offshore potential.
Three offshore wind farms are currently in developmental phases:
- in Courseulles, 75 turbines producing 6 MW;
- in Fécamp, 71 turbines producing 6 MW;
- in Dieppe, 62 turbines generating 8 MW. Furthermore, since the beginning of 2020, a fourth wind farm of 1 GW has been explored.
Nationally, offshore wind energy production goals have been increased to 1 GW per year until 2024, an objective that calls for significant investments in the sector. The wind energy sector is not yet among the largest employer of the energy sector, with around 700 jobs in 2019 directly tied to wind farms. However, they tend to be highly qualified and skilled, especially in the R&D, manufacturing, and engineering departments. The first employer of the sector is the formerly Danish company LM Wind Power.
The wind industry in Normandy: a regional map
(source: AD Normandie)
The sector is not short of skills and competences to welcome Nordic investors
With its partners, the Normandy region thrives on providing the best ecosystem for the wind energy actors, which is growing with the implementation of offshore farms. The offshore wind farms in development are expected to create 2,000 jobs in the upcoming years. Thus, higher education options specializing in wind energy-related topics are opening in Normandy, through collaboration between local companies and regional authorities.
An example is the launch of technical certification for windfarm systems in September 2019 at the Descartes-Maupassant campus near Fécamp. It was completed in early 2020 by creating an installation copying a turbine’s characteristics to implement a hands-on approach available to students. Furthermore, there are several engineering schools in the region proposing degrees needed in the wind energy industry: ENSI Caen in Materials, ESITC for construction, and ESIGELEC Rouen in electrical engineering as well.