Official launch of the 1st offshore wind turbine in France: Floatgen

The first wind turbine installed off the French coast is called Floatgen. Equipped with a floating foundation designed by the French specialist Ideol and built by Bouygues Travaux Publics in the port of Saint-Nazaire, it will be installed off the Croisic, on the SEM-REV test site of the Ecole Centrale de Nantes.
Its construction was officially launched on June 1st in Biarritz, during the Seanergy exhibition dedicated to renewable marine energies.
Pore than 3,000 offshore wind turbines are installed worldwide - the vast majority of which are so-called "laid", i.e. with their foundations in direct contact with the seabed - but still none in France. They are used to convert wind power into electricity. The term "offshore" literally means "off shore", as opposed to onshore or onshore wind turbines. Onshore wind turbines work on the same principle as traditional onshore models: they use the kinetic energy of the wind to convert it into electricity.
The wind turns blades, usually three. These drive a generator that converts the mechanical energy created into electrical energy, following the principle of a dynamo. The main difference between a marine and a land-based model of a wind turbine is the nature of the foundations, which allow it to be fixed in the ground or anchored to the sea floor. Offshore wind turbines must also be very robust to withstand harsh marine conditions.
Led by a European consortium of seven industrial and research organisations, Floatgen is a first in several respects. The first offshore wind turbine in France - the first blade towers of this 2 MW wind turbine are expected in 2017 -, but also the first full-scale 2MW demonstrator using the "Damping Pool®", patented and developed by the French company IDEOL. It is a relatively compact, rectangular ring-shaped surface float with a shallow draught and extremely efficient hydrodynamic behaviour, significantly reducing the cost of floating wind turbines. The central well located inside the float is designed and dimensioned to allow the damping of the movements of the float, thanks to the ballooning phenomena of the water retained inside, and thus to reduce the movements induced on the turbine.
The objective of this project is to demonstrate the immense potential of offshore wind power floating on a commercial scale to produce electricity from renewable sources far from the coast, therefore without visual impact and at the best cost thanks to the quality of the offshore wind deposit.
It also highlights the industrial potential of this new sector, which creates economic spin-offs as close as possible to the installation sites. The construction of the concrete hull generates many local jobs; the industrial sites of the main suppliers also benefit, as shown by the contract for the supply of the anchoring system signed with the company Le Béon.
Photo: From left to right: Nicolas Jestin, Commercial Director of Bouygues Travaux Publics; Paul de la Guérivière, CEO of Ideol, Arnaud Poitou, Director of Centrale Nantes ; Clément Mochet, Commercial Director of Le Béon
The official start of construction was therefore announced when contracts were signed between Ideol, Ecole Centrale de Nantes and Bouygues Travaux Publics.
For Paul de la Guérivière, CEO of Ideol, "Floatgen is an essential step for the company since it will lead to the launch of a first unit of our technology, but it is also an important moment for France and Europe, which, in this emerging market, have the opportunity to become world leader".
For Arnaud Poitou, director of Centrale Nantes, Floatgen is a "A milestone in the history of the school. Our sea trial site SEM-REV, a visionary project in 2007, is today proving to be an indispensable tool for the development of a new industrial sector in France".
For Benoît Lange, Commercial Director of Bouygues Travaux Publics, "Our investment in the Floatgen project reflects the company's desire to capitalize, within the framework of Renewable Marine Energies, on its extensive experience in the construction of port and maritime infrastructures in France and abroad. Concrete floats, produced on an industrial scale, will be a competitive solution for offshore wind power".
Construction will begin in September in the port of Saint-Nazaire, where the floating foundation will be built by Bouygues Travaux Publics, mobilising nearly 80 jobs on site. Once the hull has been completed, the wind turbine will be installed, alongside the quay, on its foundation. In the spring, it will be towed to the installation site off Le Croisic, SEM-REV, the world's leading multi-technology offshore test site connected to the power grid, owned by Centrale Nantes and operated jointly with the CNRS. Once on site, the wind turbine will be connected to the anchorage system and the electricity export cable.

Floatgen, a project led by seven European partners

This project, which began in 2013, brings together seven partners: Ideol, which is designing and supplying the entire floating system (the foundation, the anchoring system and the electricity export cable) and the wind turbine, École Centrale de Nantes, which is contributing its expertise in ocean engineering and making available its offshore test site, Bouygues Travaux Publics, which builds the floating foundation, the University of Stuttgart which contributes to the simulations in the study phase, RSK GROUP in charge of the environmental impact analysis, ZABALA responsible for the project management and finally FRAUNHOFER- IWES whose role is to carry out a comparative analysis of different floating solutions.
It is supported by the European Union as part of the FP7 programme, by ADEME as part of the Future Investments Programme and by the Pays de la Loire region. This project prefigures the installation in the next few years of pilot and then commercial floating wind farms.
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