Offshore wind power, Emmanuel Macron’s new favorite

By Elsa Bembaron

Published ,

Emmanuel Macron in Nantes this Tuesday. POOL / REUTERS

ANALYSIS – By announcing an upcoming call for tenders, the president is only confirming known projects, but he is going a little further in erting his convictions.

Around ten new offshore wind farms for around ten gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity in 2035. Emmanuel Macron’s announcement at the maritime economy conference this Tuesday morning could not go unnoticed. It marks a more ertive commitment from the President of the Republic in favor of wind power and confirms a trend: turbines yes, but at sea.

The choice is eminently political. Emmanuel Macron identified the development of wind turbines as being a divisive subject, “an irritant” in the countryside. There is no shortage of reasons for discontent among the refractory Gauls. Rather than betting on onshore wind power as other European countries do, France prefers offshore wind.

A technological and financial bet

Since the Belfort speech of February 2022, the true backbone of French energy policy, the President of the Republic had set his course. Carbon-free electricity will first be nuclear, with the construction of 6, or even 14 EPR 2. It will then be renewable with solar, with a target of 100 GW in 2050, and finally wind, mainly offshore. This time, he goes a little further in erting his convictions, giving a clear advantage to offshore wind power, which must reach 18 GW of installed capacity from 2035, then 40 GW in 2050. Enough to cringe a few teeth on the side of developers of onshore wind projects, who continue to denounce the lack of government support for their profession.

The choice of offshore wind power is also a strong technological and financial bet for the Élysée. France has manufacturers, such as Siemens Gamesa in Le Havre, capable of producing these machines. But the risk is commensurate with the projects: the further you go from the coast, the higher the connection costs. Thus, for the Center Manche 1 wind farm located 85 km from the coast, these costs are of the order of one billion, compared to around 400,000 euros when the park is 15 km away. Beyond 50 km, it is necessary to switch to direct current and therefore build a conversion station at sea and one on land. This implies developing industrial capacities to respond to these new challenges.

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