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Macron sets out France’s vision for 40GW offshore wind by 2050

French president sets out offshore wind vision, but industry group argues target of 50 offshore wind farms by 2050 is not enough

President Emmanuel Macron sets out his vision for the future of wind power in France
President Emmanuel Macron sets out his vision for the future of wind power in France

President Emmanuel Macron has set out the country’s ambition to create 40GW of offshore capacity for France from 50 wind farms by 2050.

The country currently has just 2MW of operational offshore wind capacity, with legal challenges delaying projects that had been initially awarded a decade ago.

The French president promised that, in trying to achieve this goal, he would create jobs and investment across the country and that he would listen to those who object to new schemes, in particular the fishing industry.

Macron set out his vision for the country’s energy future in a speech during a trip to Belfort, in eastern France, last week.

He said the first of the 50 offshore wind farms envisaged by the government – the 480MW Saint-Nazaire (Parc du Banc de Guérande) Saint-Nazaire (Parc du Banc de Guérande) (480MW) Offshoreoff Le Croisic, Pays de la Loire, France, Europe Click to see full details project – would become operational off the coast of Saint-Nazaire this year.

Factories in Saint-Nazaire, Le Havre and Cherbourg will provide the equipment and the workforce so that the introduction of offshore wind is “accompanied by job creation throughout our territory,” said Macron.

In order to achieve the scale required, the president said France must pay attention to the planning and development of potential sites at sea.

But Macron said this must be done in consultation with all stakeholders – “in particular our fishermen”.

Last year, Iberdrola’s offshore wind project off the Brittany coast ran into objections from French scallop fishermen, environmental groups and local politicians, who claimed it would damage the ecosystem and lead to job losses.

Macron said controversy over new wind farms was often caused when the construction of projects took too long or when consultation with stakeholders was not done properly.

He added: “We must take into account all stakeholders – the landscape issues, the interests of fishermen, and biodiversity issues – to succeed in preserving our fisheries resources, activities, marine ecosystems and the development of renewable energy contributing to the energy transition.”

But the proposals did not go far enough for French wind energy association, France Energie Eolienne (FEE).

Anne-Catherine de Tourtier, president of FEE, said: “If the proposals on offshore wind power show voluntarism, in particular on the method, the volumes and the rhythm proposed for onshore wind power are clearly out of step with the needs of our country.”

She added: “Under these conditions, this trajectory would not make it possible, in the short- or medium-term, to protect the French from energy shocks, nor to ensure, in a controlled time, the level of energy security and independence that a country like France must maintain.”

Onshore

In his speech, Macron also discussed the ambition to double France’s onshore capacity from 18.5GW by 2050.

Macron said this too would be achieved in consultation with affected communities and that onshore wind farms would be spread across the country.

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