Fears raised about French offshore grid

RTE connection plans lag behind project construction

France’s first offshore wind farms appear to have been scheduled to come online in advance of cable connections linking them to the onshore electricity network, Windpower Offshore understands.

According to terms laid out in France’s first offshore wind tender, 20% of the turbines in each of the four approved projects are due to come online in 2018, and a further 30% must begin turning in 2019. The remaining 50% are scheduled to come online during 2020.

However, preliminary studies by transmission system operator RTE indicate that grid connections will not be in place until 2019 at the earliest.

This date is only realistic if cable installation projects go to plan and there are no legal appeals, notes Jean-François Petit, director of development for Eole-RES, which is developing the 500MW Saint Brieuc project in partnership with Iberdrola.

The Eole-RES/ Iberdrola consortium is following the issue up with the French energy ministry, but the only feasible solution is to extend the timetable for turbine installation, suggests Petit.

As recently reported by Windpower Offshore, both Ailes Marines and the EDF-led consortium developing the three other first tender offshore wind projects are in talks with RTE about grid connection.

There are other issues regarding grid connections that need to be resolved. A draft law currently going through parliament would allow exemption to be given to offshore installations for export cables passing through "remarkable coastal areas". The provision states that cables must be buried underground, not cause any environmental damage, and be subject to public enquiry.

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