France’s national meteorological service has tapped specialist floating wind measurement outfit Akrocean to carry out a four-year campaign to collect wind and metocean data off the county in order to de-risk future offshore wind power projects in its waters.

The contract, awarded by Meteo-France on behalf of the France’s General Directorate for Energy & Climate, will see Akrocean deploy its WindSea floating platforms, equipped with Lidar and atmospheric and oceanic sensors, at a 1GW bottom-fixed project site off Normandy, as well as two floating array locations off South Brittany and in the Mediterranean.

The results of the upcoming Lidar campaigns off France will be made available for future calls for tenders as well as feeding back to the French Navy's Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department (SHOM) and CEREMA, its national agency for ecological transition and regional cohesion.

“This is a contract to carry out all of the measurement campaigns in the French waters over the next four years,” said Akrocean projects director Maxime Bellorge.

“We have worked on our offer to meet the specific needs of a state agency and we are looking forward to collaborating with the teams of Meteo-France, SHOM and CEREMA, leading experts in meteorology, oceanography and biodiversity.”

France has struggled to get steel in the water in developing its considerable offshore wind resource, with its lead-off award of large-scale developments in 2012 becoming mired in regulatory delays and the first of those projects – the 480MW Saint-Nazaire offshore wind array – now due to enter service in 2022.

Utility EDF won the last French tender for 600MW off Dunkirk, the result of which came last year, and in November France started consulting over the Normandy project site, along with the future roadmap of its plans for growth in the sector over the next 10 years.

Akrocean recently commissioned a pair of floating Lidar units off Australia as part of the country’s giant Start of South project.

The innovative WindSea design, which is wave-powered and passively stabilised using integrated water tanks, is built around a Leosphere WindCube lidar unit, with a solar pack and clean back-up, as it has no diesel on board.

Floating Lidar (light detection and ranging) technology shoots a laser beam into the sky and gauges wind flow by reading the way it “scatters” in the atmospheric particles. The concept is now treated as “bankable” measurement technology in Europe, following successful trials at several large projects.