We are delighted to have recently delivered a flagship study for ADEME on cost trajectories, assessing the impacts of innovation and learning for onshore and offshore wind turbines (land-based and floating) in France. What appears to us is that the prospects for France are unique, because the situation in France is unique:

  • The electricity supply is currently based on nuclear energy, and there is a desire to develop renewable energy sectors to balance the French energy mix
  • It already has a large onshore wind market
  • There is strong interest in developing floating wind for the deep waters of the French Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts
  • There is a strong demand for local content, although at the same time the effects of the cost reduction experienced by suppliers who have progressed in the learning curve are expected
  • The offshore wind market is not yet structured.

French onshore wind turbines will continue to grow and reduce costs, but to respond fairly quickly to the demand for renewable energy, France should operate offshore wind at an installation rate exceeding 1 GW per year.

For France, the most important product innovations for offshore wind are the foundations for deep water, those concerning floating wind. Floating foundations are vital for projects in the West and the Mediterranean. For the success of these innovations, it is essential that risk sharing and learning be effective, and that funding be available.

For floating technology, key areas of technical development include:

  • Design and manufacture of floats, anchors, dynamic cables and offshore substations
  • Installation of structures
  • Operation, maintenance and service of structures.

Apart from floating technology, France can look for a competitive position in software: no country yet has a clear advantage in network optimization, logistics management, control of the entire wind farm or efficient maintenance, and in those fields entry barriers are low . In the ADEME report, we identify innovation in the development phase through multi-criteria optimization of network configurations and improvements in resource characterization and modelling; and in the operational phase by integrating wind farm-wide wind farm control strategies, developing conditional maintenance and improving the maintenance strategy.

Our report shows that the offshore wind market represents a unique opportunity for French players who can take advantage of it to develop in Europe and around the world, if they find innovative routes of entry and competitive advantages, and if they are realistic about the requirements to join the competition.

To find out more about our activities in the French market, contact Guillaume Simon.