A consortium of Belgian marine specialist DEME and Eiffage Métal has won a contract worth more than €500m ($552.6m) to design, fabricate and install 80 steel foundations at the 480MW Saint-Nazaire offshore wind project in France.

Design activities already kicked off in order to start the production of the foundations in the spring of 2020.

The first foundations will be installed offshore at the site between 12-20 kilometres off the coast of the Guerande peninsula in western France, in rocky seabed conditions, during spring 2021, with completion being planned in summer 2022.

The start of construction of the project has been made possible after the Council of State – France’s highest administrative court – in June had given final approval to operators EDF Renewables and Enbridge to build the project, ending a lengthy process of appeals.

The Eolien Maritime France (EMF) consortium of EDF and Enbridge in a 2012 tender had won with bids for three offshore wind projects, among them next to Saint Nazaire also Courseulles-sur-Mer and Fécamp. The latter two in July also won a final permit by the Council of State.

“We are honoured to be awarded the first major EPCI foundation contract in France and to contribute to the country’s ambitious energy transition targets,” said Jan Vandenbroeck, general manager for French subsidiaries at DEME.

“The contract highlights our technical expertise in providing innovative solutions for the offshore wind industry. The Saint-Nazaire project will deliver drilled monopiles, a new step forward in the offshore wind industry.”

Eiffage through its Smulders subsidiary has already gained experience in offshore wind farm construction.

The wind farm is expected to generate enough electricity to supply 20% of the power of France’s Loire-Atlantique department.