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France Pilots Innovative Offshore Wind Energy Production

In a bid to diversify its energy mix and move towards cleaner energy, France is working actively on developing offshore wind projects. As France is coming later in the offshore wind game compared to its British, Danish or German neighbors, the developers want to push new innovative technologies to make a difference.

Less turbines, more power

Instead of  building several offshore wind farms like its European peers, France is planning to produce more energy through fewer projects by installing the next generation turbines of 8MW capacity. 

Adwen, an innovative joint venture between Areva and Gamesa has developed the first-of-its kind 8MW wind turbines.  

These cutting-edge high performance wind turbines will first undergo mechanical testing on the integral chain of drive train components at the Dynamic Nacelle Testing Laboratory(Dynalab). 

The testing process to be carried out from December 2015 would simulate operational offshore conditions for extreme and fatigue loads, allowing individual and fully integrated subsystem validation, complete drive train operation at full power, paramount for de-risking before prototype installation in 2016.
 
The 8MW turbine is already a hot choice for several offshore wind projects all over the world and its serial production is scheduled to start in 2018. 

Chief Technology Officer of Adwen said “The IWES Dynalab test stand is an invaluable asset for the offshore wind industry. This testing is a complementary step in our extensive validation program. It will contribute to having a faster certification process and finally a more reliable turbine available in serial p to production in 2018”. 

Cost reductions

Cutting cost being one of the key challenges of the offshore wind industry,, the developers of Fécamp offshore wind farm in Normandy have opted for Seatower’s self-floating foundations.   
 
This game-changing technology would allow deepwater wind projects to install turbines without any specialised marine equipment. These ballasted gravity structures would minimise seabed preparation cost and time by accommodating existing seabed slopes and surface sediments. 

These gravity based support structures are ideal for projects in water depths up to 60m and could accommodate large next generation 8MW turbines.  

The crane-free gravity base foundations at the Fécamp wind farm are environmentally friendly and would leave no concrete at the seabed when decommissioned. Above all, the consortium, gathering Dong Energy, EDF Energies Nouvelles and WPD Offshore, in charge of developing the Fécamp wind farm  estimate the savings at about €50 million on production and installation costs with this new type of foundation.

 

A leader in floating offshore wind

Furthermore, in what could be a groundbreaking project in the world offshore wind industry, France has called for tenders to develop four floating offshore wind projects. 

These future floating wind farms will be installed in three sites in the Mediterranean sea and one offshore southern Brittany near Groix Island. The expected projects must include 3 to 6 turbines each, with a capacity of at least 5 MWper turbine. 

Although Japan, Norway and Portugal have also facilitated floating wind energy technology, the French projects will be the first to test floating offshore wind turbines on a large scale. Floating turbines offer huge potential as they are not limited to shallow coasts and can capture stronger winds

Possible bidders for this tenders are EDF, Engie, Iberdrola, EDP Renovaveis, Quadran, Eole-Res and Ideol. 

France might be lagging behind Germany, Denmark and Great Britain in offshore wind development, but its innovative initiatives would shift its offshore wind industry into top gear in the next few years.