floating wind

Inauguration of the first French floating wind turbine in Saint-Nazaire

The first offshore wind turbine in France, "Floatgen", was inaugurated today in Saint-Nazaire: a major innovation! This first offshore wind turbine is the first of a new generation of floating wind turbines. Freeing itself from the constraint of depth, it can be installed further offshore where the wind is better and the visual impact reduced.
« L’he inauguration of this wind turbine, which is the first of its kind in France, is an illustration of the ecological and solidarity transition desired by Nicolas Hulot. This wind turbine is proof that it is possible to release the energies, good will, projects and enthusiasm that make up our country... while associating and protecting our fellow citizens, starting with the most fragile, in the transformations towards which we are resolutely committed, with determination and a constant concern to keep everyone on board", said Sébastien Lecornu, Secretary of State to Nicolas Hulot, who came to Saint-Nazaire for the occasion.
This installation is a European success story. Seven European partners, including three French (Ideol, Bouygues Travaux Publics and the Ecole Centrale de Nantes), have been working together since 2013 on this project off the Croisic, which should confirm the technical feasibility and economic solidity of this floating wind turbine. The European Union is supporting "Floatgen" by providing ten million euros through the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. Ademe has granted 5.7 million euros for the installation of this 2 MW wind turbine and 2.5 million euros for preliminary tests, under the programme of investments for the future.
This industrial demonstrator paves the way for a European industry in the very promising market of floating wind turbines. The French potential alone is already very significant, with an estimated 6 GW to be installed by 2030 (i.e. 3.6 EPR nuclear power plants). Before "Floatgen", no offshore wind turbine - neither fixed nor floating - had been installed in France. Elsewhere in the world only six floating units are in operation: one unit in Norway, one unit in Portugal and four in Japan.
Floating offshore wind turbines have several advantages: freeing themselves from the depth constraint, floating offshore wind turbines can be installed further offshore and therefore, on the one hand, have little or no visual impact from the coast and, on the other hand, benefit from more constant and stronger winds, thus increasing the efficiency of electricity production. Floating wind is the future of offshore wind energy.

The government is accelerating the development of renewable energy. As a first concrete measure, this week the National Assembly has just adopted a bill on hydrocarbons that sets new, simpler rules for the connection of wind turbines at sea. In order to meet the objectives set out in the energy transition law and in the Climate Plan (32% of ENR in 2030), Sébastien Lecornu also launched last week in the Ardennes a working group on wind energy to simplify the rules applicable to wind energy.

WIND IN FRANCE : Several offshore wind projects are being developed at different stages of advancement in France :
- 6 commercial fixed offshore wind power projects of 500 MW each (on the sites of Le Tréport, Fécamp, Courseulles-sur-Mer, Saint-Brieuc, Noirmoutier-en-l'Ile/Ile d'Yeu, Saint-Nazaire);
- 4 floating wind projects of 25 MW each (on the sites of Groix, Leucate, Gruissan and Fos-sur-Mer) have already been awarded by the French government with installation targets between 2020 and 2021 ;
- In addition, consultations were launched to prepare a call for tenders for commercial floating wind farms.
Worldwide, at the end of 2016, more than 3,590 wind turbines were installed, with a total capacity of 12.6 GW.

Innovation at all levels

Whether it is the very concept of the square ring-shaped floating foundation, the offshore test site, the type of concrete used for the construction or the material that will be used for the anchor lines, innovation is at the heart of this project.
A floating foundation designed by French start-up Ideol
The floating foundation that equips FLOATGEN comes from the concept developed by the French start-up Ideol. The company has in fact patented a ring-shaped floating foundation system, open in its centre (this central "opening" is otherwise known as Damping Pool®), allowing optimised stability at lower cost. The Ideol solution is the simplest, most compact and designed to be the most competitive on the market. The floating foundation is held in position on site by means of an anchoring system (2 anchor lines at the front and 4 anchor lines on either side at the back), also designed by Ideol teams. FLOATGEN will be the first unit installed at sea with Ideol's floating technology, before the installation of an additional unit in Japan in the summer of 2018.
Concrete formulation and innovative construction methods developed by Bouygues Travaux Publics
Photo: The float on its construction barges, before launching
The use of concrete as the main construction material for the Ideol floating foundation is in itself remarkable and distinguishes it from competing floating solutions that overwhelmingly use steel. Bouygues Travaux Publics, in charge of the construction of the foundation, has developed a specific formulation of light, self-compacting concrete used to build the foundation. In addition, the construction methods for the prototype, developed by Bouygues Travaux Publics, give pride of place to innovation.
The initial solution was to build on land and then to carry out an exceptional handling operation to transfer the finished float to a naval means of launching. In order to adapt as well as possible to the existing port infrastructures and to eliminate this transhipment, the chosen solution consisted in building the floating foundation directly on a set of three barges secured and moored alongside the quay. This set was then towed into the Joubert lock located at the entrance to the port where the structure was floated.
Moreover, unlike floating steel foundation solutions mostly manufactured in low-cost countries, the concrete used by the Ideol foundation allows for construction as close as possible to the installation sites. The construction techniques developed and implemented by Bouygues Travaux Publics enable the Ideol foundation to integrate into the local economic landscape and adapt easily to the constraints of the host ports. The location of the construction in the port of Saint-Nazaire, just a few dozen kilometres from the installation site, was therefore the natural choice as the optimum solution both from a logistical point of view - the industrial fabric of Saint-Nazaire being particularly dynamic - and from a socio-economic point of view, since it provides numerous benefits for the region.

The SEM-REV sea trial site, operated by Centrale Nantes
The SEM-REV platform is a collaborative research tool that enables the development of demonstrators, pilots or prototypes for energy recovery at sea (wind, waves) in real conditions up to scale 1. Researchers and industrialists thus have the necessary means to test prototypes before their industrial exploitation.
SEM-REV is: - An onshore station: research centre and electrical substation - An export cable: 20kV and 24 optical fibres - A delimited offshore area of 1km² - An underwater electrical connection station, for three simultaneous connections - Meteorological and oceanographic instrumentation tools (wind, wave and current and local parameters).
The world's first multi-technology marine renewable energy (MRE) offshore test site, SEM-REV connected to the electrical grid, it has all the prior administrative authorizations. Operated jointly by Centrale Nantes and the CNRS, its equipment at sea and on land enables the development of marine renewable energy production systems (floating wind turbines, wave energy) in real sea conditions.

Why not enjoy unlimited reading of UP'? Subscribe from €1.90 per week.

SEM-REV was officially inaugurated on Tuesday 25 August 2015 in Le Croisic (Loire-Atlantique). Launched in 2007 as part of the 2007-2013 State-Region project contract, this visionary project, whose overall budget is expected to be around €20 million, is currently being financed to the tune of €17 million by several partners, including the Pays de la Loire Region (€9.9 million), the State and the Department of Loire-Atlantique. It is a key component of the MRE sector in Pays de la Loire and a decisive asset in the development of the new national MRE industrial sector.
SEM-REV will also be used to support initial and continuing training on MRE, particularly for installation, maintenance and dismantling operations.
Synthetic fibre anchor lines
Experience from the offshore industry was used by Ecole Centrale Nantes and Ideol to develop the specifics of an innovative anchoring system. Rather than using steel to manufacture the anchoring lines, Ideol - as designer of the system - and Ecole Centrale de Nantes - as supplier of the system - chose a synthetic fibre, nylon, which has excellent resistance qualities. LeBeon Manufacturing, selected to supply this innovative system, has surrounded itself with two industrial partners from the offshore world: Bexco, a Belgian company specialising in synthetic fibre and Dai-Han, a South Korean company specialising in chain elements. LeBéon Manufacturing is in charge of the construction of the connectors in forged alloy steel (composition on specification).
The main advantage of nylon fibre over conventional anchoring solutions is that it is not subject to corrosion. While in the offshore oil industry it is usually polyester fibre that is used for the line stiffness it allows, in the case of FLOATGEN, nylon fibre has been preferred for its elasticity characteristics. Nylon will absorb part of the swell movements and stresses generated by the float on the surface.

What are the prospects for offshore wind power floating in France and around the world?

FLOATGEN, the starting point for serial deployment
The FLOATGEN project, the first offshore wind turbine in France and the first demonstrator of the Ideol floating foundation technology, will provide unique feedback to the consortium partners, particularly in terms of construction methods, installation and operation of the floating system, and will serve as a commercial showcase for export.
In France, pilot farms and a call for tenders announced for commercial farms
On 13 July last, the French government selected a consortium led by Quadran and combining the Ideol floating foundation solution and the expertise of Bouygues Travaux Publics, to build the first wind farm in the Mediterranean (4 units installed off the coast of Gruissan, one of the best wind deposits in Europe: the EOLMED project). At the time, Ségolène Royal, then Minister of the Environment, had also launched consultations to prepare a call for tenders for commercial-scale wind farms (around 50 wind turbines).
The French potential for floating wind power is indeed significant, estimated at 6 GW (the equivalent of 3.6 EPR nuclear power plants). France therefore has the know-how of leading companies and players such as Ideol and Bouygues Travaux Publics and aims to structure a competitive and export-oriented national industrial sector in order to become the leader in this market.
Ambitious international objectives for a market with very high potential
Many countries have entered the floating wind market, the most important of which is Japan, which is in the process of redefining its energy mix. The Japanese Ministry of Environment is planning between 2.7 GW and 5.6 GW of floating offshore wind by 2030 and will install a floating wind demonstrator using the Ideol solution in mid-2018.
The United Kingdom, the United States and Southeast Asia are also among the most advanced and promising markets. As stated by the President of the Association of European Wind Energy Stakeholders, WindEurope, at the recent international meetings of the Marseilles floating offshore wind industry: " Floating offshore wind energy has a major role to play in achieving the renewable energy objectives set by the States for 2030".


Nous avons un message pour vous…

Dès sa création, il y a plus de dix ans,  nous avons pris l’engagement que UP’ Magazine accordera au dérèglement climatique, à l’extinction des espèces sauvages, à la pollution, à la qualité de notre alimentation et à la transition écologique l’attention et l’importance urgentes que ces défis exigent. Cet engagement s’est traduit, en 2020, par le partenariat de UP’ Magazine avec Covering Climate Now, une collaboration mondiale de 300 médias sélectionnés pour renforcer la couverture journalistique des enjeux climatiques. En septembre 2022, UP’ Magazine a adhéré à la Charte pour un journalisme à la hauteur de l’urgence écologique.

Nous promettons de vous tenir informés des mesures que nous prenons pour nous responsabiliser à ce moment décisif de notre vie. La désinformation sur le climat étant monnaie courante, et jamais plus dangereuse qu’aujourd’hui, il est essentiel que UP’ Magazine publie des rapports précis et relaye des informations faisant autorité – et nous ne resterons pas silencieux.

Notre indépendance éditoriale signifie que nous sommes libres d’enquêter et de contester l’inaction de ceux qui sont au pouvoir. Nous informerons nos lecteurs des menaces qui pèsent sur l’environnement en nous fondant sur des faits scientifiques et non sur des intérêts commerciaux ou politiques. Et nous avons apporté plusieurs modifications importantes à notre expression éditoriale pour que le langage que nous utilisons reflète fidèlement, mais sans catastrophisme, l’urgence écologique.

UP’ Magazine estime que les problèmes auxquels nous sommes confrontés dans le cadre de la crise climatique sont systémiques et qu’un changement sociétal fondamental est nécessaire. Nous continuerons à rendre compte des efforts des individus et des communautés du monde entier qui prennent courageusement position pour les générations futures et la préservation de la vie humaine sur terre. Nous voulons que leurs histoires inspirent l’espoir.

Nous espérons que vous envisagerez de nous soutenir aujourd’hui. Nous avons besoin de votre soutien pour continuer à offrir un journalisme de qualité, ouvert et indépendant. Chaque abonnement des lecteurs, quelle que soit sa taille, est précieux. Soutenez UP’ Magazine à partir d’1.90 € par semaine seulement – et cela ne prend qu’une minute. Merci de votre soutien.

Je m’abonne →

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
energy transition
Previous article

Towards a CO2-based solar fuel!

Businesses and Sustainable Development Objectives
Next article

Business and sustainable development: general mobilization!

Latest articles from Resources



Already registered? I'm connecting

Inscrivez-vous et lisez three articles for free. Recevez aussi notre newsletter pour être informé des dernières infos publiées.

→ Register for free to continue reading.



You have received 3 free articles to discover UP'.

Enjoy unlimited access to our content!

From $1.99 per week only.