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France Announces Winner of First Major Floating Offshore Wind Tender

In a landmark milestone for the global energy transition, the consortium between Elicio, an international wind energy producer, and BayWa r.e., a renewable energy developer and solutions provider, has been named the winner of France’s first large-scale floating offshore wind tender. The announcement was made on May 15, 2024, by Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy, Finance, and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty, Roland Lescure, Minister Delegate for Industry and Energy, and Hervé Berville, Secretary of State for the Sea and Biodiversity.

The winning project, named Pennavel, will be the world’s first commercial floating offshore wind farm. Located off the south coast of Brittany near Lorient, the Pennavel project will have a capacity of 250 MW, capable of generating approximately 30% of Brittany’s current renewable energy production and providing power to over 450,000 inhabitants annually.

The project is set to play a crucial role in Brittany’s energy landscape and is expected to significantly contribute to the region’s sustainable growth. Pennavel will be the first commercial floating wind farm in the world to be awarded a long-term Contract for Difference (CfD). The project also benefits from a secured grid connection with RTE, the French transmission system operator.

This award is the outcome of a competitive tender process initiated in 2021 for an offshore floating wind project with a capacity between 230 and 270 MW. The consortium’s bid of €86.45 per MWh was the second lowest among six bids, representing 15% less than the average. Investment costs vary significantly, with the most competitive being 32% lower than the least competitive and 20% below the average, illustrating a developing sector compared to fixed-bottom wind.

Candidates estimate average investment costs at €3.5 million per MW in 2023, approximately €936 million for the project. Operating and maintenance costs are also highly variable, with the most competitive being 45% lower than the least competitive and 24% below the average.

The planned turbines have a unit capacity of 20 to 23.3 MW, with technologies allowing up to 24.5 MW. Most bids are based on turbines of 20 to 21 MW and rotors of 270 to 276 meters, supported by manufacturers like General Electric, Siemens Gamesa, and MinYang, anticipating commissioning around 2030. Some candidates project turbines over 24 MW by 2028.

The floater technology is dominated by steel semi-submersible floaters, chosen by four candidates, while the other two propose concrete constructions (including the winner). The floaters need to support turbines of 20 to 23.3 MW, or even 24.5 MW. Five candidates opt for anchoring with grouted piles, one for drag-embedded anchors. The expected lifespan of the parks exceeds the 20-year remuneration contract, with estimates ranging from 30 to 35 years.

Elicio and BayWa r.e. have committed to significant local engagement and development. The consortium plans to invest €5 million in socio-economic activities in Brittany and Pays de la Loire. The Pennavel project will generate approximately 4.5 million working hours during the construction phase and create more than 30 permanent jobs once operational. Additionally, the local population will have the opportunity to invest in the project through crowdfunding initiatives.

The project underscores France’s leadership in floating wind technology, positioning the country at the forefront of this emerging sector. Floating wind farms, unlike traditional fixed-bottom offshore wind farms, can be installed in deeper waters, unlocking new areas for renewable energy generation. This technological innovation is crucial for meeting France’s ambitious renewable energy targets, which include commissioning 50 offshore wind farms by 2050 to achieve a capacity of 45 GW.

Alain Janssens, CEO of Elicio, expressed pride in the consortium’s achievement, highlighting their pioneering experience in offshore and onshore wind projects. Matthias Taft, CEO of BayWa r.e., emphasized the consortium’s commitment to the energy transition and the high quality of their work.

The Pennavel project marks a significant step forward in the development of floating wind technology, providing a template for future projects worldwide and reinforcing France’s role in the global renewable energy landscape.

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