First offshore turbine for France

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France's first offshore wind turbine -- better described as "semi-offshore -- will be installed next year at La Rochelle on the west coast. The 1.5 MW Jeumont J70 turbine, a prototype of a new model, will stand in shallow water 70 metres off Pointe Chef-de-Baie. The base of the tower will only be submerged at high tide. The project was originally approved in 1999 under the now defunct EOLE 2005 wind program and is being developed by Centre de Recherche sur les Énergies Alternatives. CREA is an association of researchers and students at the University of La Rochelle. Aided by specialists and industrialists, and financed by EU and local government grants as well as subscriptions from organisations and individuals of the city, CREA has carried out all the necessary legal and planning work in preparation for installation in spring 2003. The turbine is expected to make a profit over its lifetime, but its main purposes are to aid research for wind plant off France's Atlantic coast and to raise public awareness. The turbine will be connected to the shore by a causeway giving public access to a circular platform round the base of the tower. Accompanied groups of visitors will be allowed to climb a ladder inside the tower to a platform 67-metre above the sea. Up to 40,000 visitors a year are anticipated.

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