The flagship turbine for France’s first offshore wind farm, the 480MW Saint-Nazaire, has rolled off the assembly line at GE Renewable Energy’s Montoir-de-Bretagne factory in Brittany.

Eighty of the machines, the OEM’s 6MW Haliade-150, will be installed for the €2bn ($2.4bn) EDF-Enbridge project, being developed some 12-20km off the coast in the French Atlantic.

GE Renewable Energy CEO Jérôme Pécresse celebrated the first turbine as marking “a new stage” in the construction of France’s offshore wind fleet.

“By producing these Haliade 150s, we enhance our contribution to consolidating the French wind farm industry, a competitive, exportable industry with long-term prospects, and that generates employment ,” he declared.

EDF senior executive vice president for renewables, Bruno Bensasson, stated: “We are very happy to be present today to witness the tangible progress of the first offshore wind farm in France, with the production of its first nacelle.

“This wind farm project belongs above all to the Pays de La Loire region which has contributed greatly to the creation of a new French industry. This offshore wind farm constitutes a big step forward for renewable energy development in France.”

While nacelle production continues, earthworks are being finalised in preparation for the storage and assembly of turbine componentry in the port of Saint-Nazaire.

Installation at sea will begin next year with anchoring of the foundations and burying the inter-turbine cables, with start-up slated for 2022. Once operational, the wind farm will generate enough power to supply 20% of the electricity consumption of France’s Loire-Atlantique region.

The first wave of French offshore wind farms, including Saint-Nazaire, were auctioned off in 2012 and 2014, but lengthy administrative and court hurdles have delayed the projects by many years.