The French government got only a lukewarm welcome as it proposed raising its 2028 offshore wind target to between 5.2GW and 6.2GW, up from a range of 4.7-5.2GW previously envisaged, in the latest draft of the country’s multi-year energy plan (PPE).
The wind industry in France gave a mixed reception to the plan, which now is in public consultation and also sets an interim target for 2023 of 2.4GW.
“If we can be satisfied concerning the floating offshore wind first steps, the ambition on bottom fixed – considering the potential in France and the competitiveness demonstrated by the industry (in Dunkirk for instance) – remains low,” Matthieu Monnier, deputy chief executive at the French Wind Energy Association (FEE), told Recharge.
As part of the proposal, 250MW of floating wind are scheduled to be auctioned in each of 2021 and 2022 in southern Brittany and the Mediterranean, while 1GW in fixed offshore wind is due to be tendered-off this year off the coast of Normandy.
Another 1GW in bottom-fixed offshore wind capacity off the southern Atlantic coast is scheduled to be tendered next year or in 2022, and a further 1GW in fixed offshore at a yet-undisclosed location in 2023.
From 2024 on, the government plans annual offshore wind tenders of 1GW per year, as announced last year, which can be either fixed or floating.
Gunnar Herzig, managing director of global offshore wind advocacy body World Forum Offshore Wind, said “While this announcement is good news for the French offshore wind market, we believe the government’s target should be even higher given France’s great potential not only for conventional offshore wind, but also for floating.
“With the first turbines expected to be in the water within the next three years, we are convinced that France can become one of Europe’s most dynamic offshore wind markets of the 2020s.”
A consortium led by French utility EDF last year won a tender for the about 600MW Dunkirk offshore wind zone in northern France with a bid of €44 ($48.88) per megawatt hour. While not at zero, as in the latest Dutch offshore wind auctions, the outcome at Dunkirk was considered extremely low given the lengthy delays the industry had to endure in France due to bureaucratic and legal constraints.
So far, France has no commercial offshore wind farms in operation.
The raised targets in the PPE are part of a French climate and energy strategy first presented in late 2018 and adjusted in accordance with sharpened climate ambitions.
“For the first time, the government is setting a coherent roadmap, sector by sector, to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050, that is to say a France that produces no more carbon than it absorbs,” said Élisabeth Borne, France’s minister for the ecological transition.
According to French environment and energy agency Ademe, the country has a fixed offshore wind potential of 90GW, and a theoretical potential of 155GW for floating wind, but only 33GW of that can be seen as not conflicting with other uses of the sea.
The FEE thinks it is unlikely this latest draft of the PPE will change during the public consultation process.
The multi-year plan is seen as a means to reach France's target to cut greenhouse gas emission by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, while increasing the share of renewables in the country's gross final energy consumption to 33%.
France also has a target to simultaneously reduce the share of nuclear power inits electricity production to 50% by 2035, from about three quarters now.