The fifth of its kind to be commissioned in France, this wind farm will enter its construction phase this summer. But opponents of the project point to its obsolescence.
Just launched, the future offshore wind farm on the islands of Yeu and Noirmoutier is it already outdated? This is, in any case, the reproach made by certain actors opposed to the project, while the phase of construction of the installations must start in the coming weeks.
This renewable project has just obtained the final investment decision, enabling the first phases of its construction to be launched this summer. Carried by Ocean Winds – a joint venture dedicated to offshore wind power and 50/50 owned by the two energy companies Engie and EDP Renewables -, it should see the light of day in 2025, more than 10 years after winning the call for offers launched by the State a year earlier. Representing an investment of approximately 2.5 billion euros, the EMYN project provides the construction and installation of a wind farm located 11 km off the island of Yeu and 16 km off the island of Noirmoutier, which will supply nearly 800,000 people with electricity each year, the equivalent of the population of Vendée. And this, thanks to 62 wind turbines with a unit power of 8 megawatts (MW), a third lower than the wind turbines called “new generation“.
And this is precisely where the shoe pinches:The planned models are old-generation 8 MW wind turbines. In the current standard, the machines are much more powerful, such as General Electric’s Haliade X (12 or 13 MW)regrets Emmanuel Vrignaud, president of the NENY ociation (No to wind turbines between Noirmoutier and Yeu). The representative laments not “failed to reach a collective decisionwhich would have made it possible to postpone the project and thus bring it up to date. “We would have preferred to review the copy with the latest generation wind turbines: they are larger, can be installed further from the coast, and we could increase their number from 60 40 wind turbines for the same efficiency“, details the opponent of the project, who believes that this wind farm “is also obsolete because of its too close proximity to the Vendée islands“.
“Indeed, the offshore wind sector takes so long to come out – at least 7 years before a park is commissioned – that by force of circumstance, technologies evolveIn the meantime, confirms Jérémy Simon. The Deputy General Delegate of the Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables (SER) ures us, however, that “you can’t come back and change the whole project after the fact“: this situation is “quite clicin offshore wind power, according to the SER,due to the rapid technological evolution of machines, exacerbated by the very long development time of the first projects“. “This is valid everywhere in Europe. When we look at the projects commissioned in 2022, most wind turbines have powers equivalent to 8 MW, while we are able to market much more powerful turbines.s”, continues Jérémy Simon. The representative, however, refuses to talk about obsolescence, preferring to emphasize “a long-term effectof the launch of projects. A reality which, according to him, must push the players in the sector to “speed up instruction procedures and reduce the time needed to complete a project“.
“A product that has already been tested and certified”
Impossible, in fact, to rethink a project of such magnitude today, under penalty of starting all the studies from scratch, including those of impact. And too bad if the technologies have since evolved and are now more efficient. For the promoters of the EMYN project, this long time of conception, design, approval is “implicit at the time of turbine purchase“. “It is a normal process to have a certain number of years between the choice of the turbine and the installation of it. It depends on the country, but it always takes between 5 in 10 years“says Paolo Cairo, the director of the Yeu-Noirmoutier wind farm. In his words, “if we decided to do a project today in 2023, with turbines with a power of 14MW, it would only be ready in 7 years“.
Refers to him praising the power of the future wind turbines of the park, produced by Siemens Gamesa in its factory in Le Havre: “A well-tested and well-certified product that will be easy to maintain […] more than enough to ensure the production commitment and reach the total site capacity set at 500 MW“. And to add:It’s true that we would have the possibility of having larger turbines and moving them farther from the coast, these are axes on which all the developers are working, but once again, we would only have it in 7 or 8 years old“. A new law, promulgated on March 10, also aims, according to the government, to accelerate the production of renewable energies. And this, in particular insimplifying procedures“. Whether this will dramatically shorten lead times remains to be seen as technology moves at high speed.