French wind industry targets 15GW offshore by 2030

Overhaul of permitting process needed to speed up development

France could realistically install 15GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 if it simplified permitting and adopted a coordinated, long-term policies, argues the French Wind Energy Association (FEE).

FEE has identified 10,000km² of French waters where it would be technically feasible to install up to 80GW of fixed foundation turbines in depths of up to 50m (see map).

The problem with France’s current system of competitive tenders is that permitting is not coordinated and so risks creating additional delays, says Olivia Arana de Maleville, FEE’s industry and economy project officer. Developers and transmission system operator RTE have to obtain three separate permits and there is no guarantee that project concessions will be built.

At present, France expects to have just 2GW operating offshore by 2020, instead of the 6GW it planned. Even this is based on the assumption that permits will be issued and that there are no legal challenges or other delays.

The other major problem, in FEE’s eyes, is that there is no visibility beyond the second tender, launched earlier this month. While the wind industry welcomes the tender, the country needs to move on to the next stage in order to ensure a certain volume and rate of deployment, argues de Maleville.

One of the best ways to do this would be to implement a coordinated and long-term maritime planning policy as proposed earlier this month by the European Commission, says FEE. This would allow early identification of zones where turbines could be installed in a transparent and comprehensive way, thus increasing investor certainty and reducing administrative burden. Speeding up and simplifying the planning process would also help bring down costs, notes FEE.

The association plans to submit its proposals during a national debate this summer on the future of France’s energy policy. The debate should result in a draft law in the autumn outlining how France will achieve its goal of reducing the share of nuclear power in its electricity mix to 50%, down from around 75% today.

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