Offshore Wind Power
Offshore wind power: cutting-edge technology
Offshore wind farms provide a source of carbon-free power generation with a vastly underexploited capacity. Larger in size than their onshore counterparts, they also have a better performance level because the wind at sea is stronger and more regular. Mainly exploited off the English, Danish, Belgian and German coasts, offshore wind power is now growing in France as well. EDF subsidiary EDF Energies Nouvelles is active in three offshore wind power projects currently under development in France. The Group already operates two offshore wind farms: Teesside in the UK and C-Power in Belgium.
Offshore wind turbines are not just an adaptation of onshore wind turbines. They involve cutting-edge renewable technology and are specifically designed for the highly demanding marine environment. More powerful than their onshore counterparts, offshore wind turbines benefit from stronger and more regular winds. This power means they can operate at their nominal speed, depending on their location, more frequently than onshore turbines, thereby improving their overall output.
Performance and productivity
Two types of technology are currently used to harness wind at sea to generate electricity:
- bottom-fixed foundation wind turbines: as their name suggests, they are built on the sea bed, which requires the wind farm to be installed in an area of reasonably shallow seawater (5 to 40 metres deep)
- floating wind turbines installed on floating platforms anchored to the sea bed with cables. This technology simplifies installation and allows farms to be placed further from the coast.
The French government has published offshore wind power calls for tender with the aim of achieving an installed capacity of 6,000 MW by 2020. Of the first two calls for tender, EDF, through its dedicated subsidiary EDF Energies Nouvelles, has been awarded three sites:
- Fécamp (Seine-Maritime, English Channel, capacity 498 MW): 83 turbines more than 13 km off the coast. The planned production would cover the average electricity consumption of a population of 770,000
- Courseulles-sur-Mer (Calvados, English Channel, capacity 450 MW): 75 turbines more than 10 km off the coast that would cover the average electricity consumption of a population of 630,000
- Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique, Atlantic coast, capacity 480 MW): 80 turbines more than 12 km off the coast that would cover the average electricity consumption of a population of 700,000.
For these three projects, General Electric (formerly Alstom) will install its 6 MW Haliade 150 turbines manufactured in France. The consortium has undertaken to create a manufacturing industry for the wind power sector in France that will create jobs and be sustainable and competitive.