France

France

France maps out wind development - updated

The French government's newly published draft energy plan (PPE) confirmed a strong trajectory for onshore wind in to the next decade, but brings little comfort to the offshore sector.

France's first offshore wind farm, Ideol's Floatgen project, was commissioned in September 2018
France's first offshore wind farm, Ideol's Floatgen project, was commissioned in September 2018

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It comes nearly two months after the government announced the broad outlines of its energy policy to 2028, and details how the country will meet its targets.

Overall, the government says it will speed development of the most competitive technologies, "while taking into account environmental issues, local feasibility and conflicts of use."

The published PPE confirmed the target of up to 35.6GW of onshore capacity by 2028 and, for the first time, lays out a regular programme of tenders.

The provisional timetable foresees three tenders totalling 1.6GW in 2019, two totalling 1.8GW in 2020 and then two per year of 1GW each from 2021.

Among other things, the government will encourage the repowering of existing sites, support citizen’s participation and, in 2023, make it obligatory to recycle decommissioned turbines.

It will continue to simplify the permitting process for onshore wind, though failed to give further details.

Given that the PPE assumes adding around 2GW a year over the next decade, it needs to act quickly. The industry is still waiting for a decree resolving the blockage over environmental authorisations.

Offshore

The offshore picture is less rosy. While the industry has been pushing for 10GW installed capacity in 2028, the PPE still retains a target of 5.2GW at best.

Equally worrying for the industry, it announces a modest programme of tenders, with no fixed-foundation projects attributed at all in 2021 and 2022 (see table).

Provisional programme for awarding offshore capacity

Date awarded  Capacity Location Foundation Target price (€/MWh)
2019 500MW Dunkirk Fixed <70
2020 1GW East Channel/North Sea Fixed 65
2021 250MW Brittany Floating 120
2022 250MW Mediterranean Floating 110
2023/24 1-1.5GW Fixed 60
2024 250-500MW* Floating
2025 onwards 500MW/year** Fixed/Floating

*Depending on prices in previous rounds

** Depending on price and resource

"These 'minimal' targets deprive [France] of an industrial, economic, energy and environmental opportunity which we may not see again for a long time," warned Olivier Perot, president of French wind energy association FEE.

Much will depend on the price trajectory, as the government struggles to control state spending.

The PPE specified target prices for each tender, starting at €70/MWh for Dunkirk, marking a sharp fall from the renegotiated tariff of around €150/MWh for the first round projects, though no longer includes the grid connection. 

"Among other things, the 'target prices' themselves represent acknowledgment by the government of the competitiveness of fixed-foundation offshore wind energy," said Olivier Perot, president of FEE.

The industry still hopes to convince the government to increase the targets for offshore to at least 1GW a year, and hold regular tenders. "We believe there is some margin for for manoeuvre," said Marion Lettry, assistant executive commissioner of renewable-energy trade body SER.

The PPE will now be reviewed by various bodies, including the Environmental Authority (AE) and National Council for the Energy Transition (CNTE), before final adoption, probably in the autumn.

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