France launches its first offshore wind power project

LOC Renewables supplies MWS work to Floatgen, France’s first offshore wind farm – and its first full-scale floating wind turbine.

The Paris office of LOC Renewables, a part of LOC Group, the leading international marine and engineering consulting firm, has successfully overseen the launch of France’s first offshore wind turbine. LOC Renewables supplied marine warranty surveying services (MWS) across the project, which enabled an efficient and successful delivery of the 2MW Floatgen. Strikingly, the project is both France’s first offshore turbine and its first launch of full-scale floating wind turbine.

France is well-suited to floating wind, due to the strong, stable winds presented by regions with deeper seas off its coast, both Atlantic and Mediterranean. Moreover, the ability to tow to site floating wind turbines further out to sea means that there is less visual impact than with fixed offshore wind. This is a key issue in the ongoing French offshore debate, which recently saw public opinion and expensive subsidies delay development of several fixed offshore projects by four to six years.

Worldwide, several commercial-scale projects are under development but only a few prototype projects are currently producing power with costs as high as €180/MWh.

The Floatgen Demonstrator wind energy project, led by Ideol and involving 6 other European partners (Centrale Nantes, Bouygues Travaux Publics, University of Stuttgart, RSK, Zabala, Fraunhofer), is designed to show the technical and economic feasibility of the multimegawatt integrated floating wind turbine system, opening up a route to future developments with decreased, competitive electricity generation costs – which may soon match those of bottom-fixed offshore wind.

The unique Ideol design involves a concrete floater, moored by six nylon mooring lines, which led to technical challenges. For example, the mooring lines had to be stretched before connection, requiring the use of specialised marine techniques and equipment. In order to ensure that such challenges were appropriately met, LOC was brought on to guide the choice of equipment and procedures.

For Ideol, LOC offered MWS services for a variety of activities, from concrete floater construction and launch to turbine component integration, mooring line hook-up and turbine tow-out. In order to accomplish this, LOC brought their considerable marine engineering expertise to the local market, working with firms more used to coastal work and shore construction to guide the efficient build of Floatgen to keep risks low and ensure successful installation.

Hugues Delanoue, Managing Director of LOC France, said, “This Floatgen project could be the first step of a significant success story for France, which has already awarded four offshore floating wind pilot projects. With its larger potential capacity, floating offshore wind is at the forefront of a new wave of renewables technologies that will shake up the energy mix in France and wider Europe.

“The MWS provided by LOC Renewables can ensure smooth, safe and quick operations, particularly when new projects and technologies such as floating wind can require delicate operations that may be unfamiliar to local project teams. Bringing our engineering expertise to floating wind has allowed us to deliver this ground-breaking project with carefully-managed costs and minimal complications.”