Japanese-Danish offshore wind OEM MHI Vestas has been named to supply turbines to the Groix & Belle-Ile floating pilot off France, clearing the way for the project’s development group to move ahead with signing final financing agreements with the country’s energy agency, Ademe.

The order from FEFGBI – a consortium made up of Chinese General Nuclear’s European arm, developer Eolfi and France’s la Banque des Territoires – will see the turbine-maker deliver three of its 9.5MW V164s to replace the 6MW GE Haliade-150s originally earmarked for the Naval Energies platforms being used on the project, located in 55-70 metres of water off Brittany.

“We feel honoured to form be a part of a project that not only pushes the frontiers of renewables technology but is also testing the French government’s capacity to promote renewable energy,” said CGN Europe Energy CEO Yuanzheng Huang, signing the preferred supplier agreement today (7 October) in Paris, with HRH the Crown Prince of Denmark in attendance.

“Entering into this financing agreement with Ademe represents a major milestone for this project and rewards three years of hard work with our partners. Our collaboration with Naval Energies and MHI Vestas also demonstrates that synergy is possible between a Chinese company and European industrial groups.”

“The [Groix & Belle-Ile] project is of particular importance to the CGN Group and we will be delighted to see it come to fruition.”

MHI Vestas CEO Philippe Kavafyan stated: “Installing the 9.5MW machine for the Groix & Belle-Ile project will build on our experience from WindFloat Atlantic [about to be towed-out off Portugal] and Kincardine [slated to be onstream off Scotland in 2021].

“The oceanic conditions we see in the West of France are representative of 80% of global floating potential, so we look forward to delivering our technology to France and leveraging our experience for future floating projects.”

Naval Energies CEO Laurent Schneider-Maunoury said: “For this pilot farm, we were able to very rapidly upgrade our design [from a platform scaled for a 6MW turbine] to incorporate the [9.5MW] MHI Vestas turbines. This a flagship industrial project on both a national and international scale.”

Using 9.5MW machines at Groix & Belle-Ile means the once-24MW project will be able to scale back from four units to three while gaining capacity, up to 28.5MW.

MHI Vestas noted that “maintaining similar size” to the original project site allowed for the environmental criteria in place for Groix & Belle-Ile to remain unchanged.

Connection work has been subcontracted to French transmission system operator RTE and involves installing submarine and underground lines to link the array to the country’s onshore grid.

The European Commission in February rubber-stamped French plans to support four 24MW floating wind demonstrators, along with Groix Belle Ile, awarding contracts to Engie/EDPR's Leucate and Quandran's Eolmed in the Atlantic Ocean and EDF's Provence Grand Large in the Mediterranean, at a 20-year feed-in tariff of €240/MWh ($272/MWh).

Construction of the quartet of arrays, to be installed in 2021, is already underway in different European ports.

Wind industry advocacy body WindEurope figures some 350MW of floating capacity  will be switched on in Europe by 2021 led by a raft of projects off the UK, France, Portugal and Norway.

Analysts range widely in their 2030 forecasts for floating wind, with estimates spread from as little as 6GW up to almost 19GW, all influenced by how quickly levellised cost of energy numbers can be brought down to below €50/MWh, to be competitive with conventional offshore wind.