France invests heavily in offshore wind

In response to a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago on the Prenergy wood-burning power station proposed for Port Talbot, the discussion moved on to renewable electricity generation, and offshore wind power in particular.

Although some newspapers, notably the Telegraph, have reported that countries like Denmark are pulling out of windpower, exactly the reverse is true. Denmark is still pressing ahead with new and even larger offshore windfarms, for example at Dan Tysk and Anholt. Germany is also continuing to expand its offshore wind capacity, aiming to get generate a quarter of its electricity from wind by in the next ten years. There are articles here, here and here.

But I was surprised to read that France—a country hardly renowned for its commitment to renewable energy over the past few decades—is now planning to embark on a large offshore wind programme of its own.

Offshore wind farm plants with 600 wind turbines are to be built on five sites between Saint-Nazaire and Dieppe/Le Tréport in a €10 billion project to be announced by President Sarkozy.

The 3,000 MW total wind power capacity of the new project is the equivalent of two nuclear power stations. France has set itself the goal of producing 23 per cent of its power needs from renewable resources by 2020, with 6,000 MW from [offshore] wind power. The new offshore wind farms should start generating power in 2015.

OffshoreWIND, 24 January 2011

Those who are most opposed to renewable energy—and windpower in particular—often use France as an example of the sort of energy mix they would like to see. They assume that because France relies so heavily on nuclear power, there is no need for it to use renewables. But this isn't true. As we can see from this rather helpful site, France already has over 5,500 MW of installed onshore wind capacity, but this is the first big expansion into offshore wind. I think it's a very welcome development ... though I would raise an eyebrow about whether they can get these five windfarms up and running by 2015.

The big concern is whether the wind industry has the capacity to cope with all these new projects, something which highlights the golden opportunity we have in Wales to develop our own manufacturing and servicing capacity. The Round 3 windfarms in the Irish Sea Zone between Ynys Môn and the Isle of Man will be bigger than these five French windfarms put together, and those in the Bristol Channel Zone will be about half as big.

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Anonymous said...

Let me guess, Brittany will be the main hub for these wind farms? When are the Celtic nations going to realise that they would be richer as independent states than as peripheries to decaying imperal states?

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