A decade after receiving government approval, a consortium that includes Electricite de France SA’s renewables unit started installing turbines for France’s first offshore wind farm as the nation tries to diversify beyond nuclear power.
The Saint Nazaire wind farm is 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) off the west coast and should produce about 20% of the power demand in the Loire-Atlantique region, where about 1.5 million people live. The 480-megawatt site should be completed this year.
Installation of the turbines brings France into Europe’s booming offshore wind market, currently dominated by the U.K., Denmark and Germany. France wants renewable energy to make up about a third of its power mix by 2030.
Local opposition and legal challenges mean it’s taken about a decade to get the first turbine installed since the government awarded projects to developers in 2012.
Since then, renewable-energy prices plummeted and turbines massively increased in size. The 6-megawatt machines from General Electric Co. being installed at Saint Nazaire are half as big as GE’s largest, but developers sometimes can’t buy the biggest machines because they have to stick to what they put in planning documents.
Enbridge Inc. and CPP Investments are EDF’s partners in the project.