French offshore link fears remain

Fears persist over a mismatch in the timing of grid connections for the first wave of French offshore wind farms, a developer confirms.

France’s first offshore tender, concluded last spring, mandated that the first four projects (totalling 1.93GW) must be generating at least 20% of their total capacity by 2018, with the full amount on line by 2020.

However, late last year grid operator RTE admitted that it would be unlikely to have export cables in place at those projects until 2019 at the earliest.

Renaud Chevallaz Perrier, technical director of EOLE-RES, concedes that “we still have a problem there”.

EOLE-RES, part of the UK-based RES Group, was awarded the 500MW Saint-Brieuc offshore project in the first tender alongside partner Iberdrola. The issue has also been raised by a consortium led by EDF and Alstom, which won the other three first round zones.

However, despite the grid mix-up, and the virtual certainty that France will miss its 2020 offshore target, industry sources say the sector’s profile is on the rise with politicians and the public.

“Offshore wind has bipartisan support in France today,” says Areva Wind chief executive Jean Huby.

“We had the first tender under the previous government, and we’ve had a new tender under the new government. It’s going very much in the right direction.”