Offshore wind: France’s first offshore wind farm is built off the coast of Saint-Nazaire

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The first French offshore wind farm will be taking shape off Saint Nazaire in spring 2022. GE Renewable Energy is among the major players involved in making this project a reality.

What is GE Renewable Energy’s involvement and what progress has been made so far?

GE Renewable Energy was entrusted with supplying the offshore wind turbines for this first French wind farm, located off the coast of Saint-Nazaire. GE Renewable Energy’s France-based factories got to work on developing and delivering the turbines. Assembly of the nacelles (turbine sitting atop the tower) began this year at our Montoir-de-Bretagne site, with installation and commissioning due to take place during 2022. The blades and towers are being produced respectively by another General Electric subsidiary and subcontractors in Spain, prior to delivery to Saint-Nazaire.

What special features apply to this offshore wind farm?

The project consists of wind turbines with 6 Megawatt (MW) capacity per unit, giving the farm a total capacity of 480 MW. By choosing a very high capacity turbine, we were able to have just 80 altogether with a combined footprint of 78 km². Expected production will cover the equivalent of 20% of demand for electricity in the Loire-Atlantique department. The wind turbines will lie at a distance of 12 – 20 km off the coast, at a depth of 12 – 25 m. Regarding their location, the Banc de Guérande site offers numerous advantages when it comes to building an offshore wind farm – regular, strong winds, shallow seas and a situation away from the main commercial sailing routes.

We’ve heard a lot about the Haliade X, can you tell us a bit more about this exceptionally large new wind turbine with its cutting-edge technology?

Haliade-X is due to go on sale in 2021. This new wind turbine is being produced exclusively in France, at GE’s Saint-Nazaire site. The Haliade-X is not only the biggest, but also the most powerful, wind turbine currently in operation anywhere in the world. It has a 220 metre rotor and the blades are 107 metres long. The combination of a more powerful generator, longer blades and a higher capacity factor means that the Haliade-X is less sensitive to variations in wind speed, which in turn increases its capacity to generate more energy at lower wind speeds. GE’s investment in Haliade-X will help make offshore wind farms a more profitable, more competitive source of clean energy.

Why did you ask agap2 to assist you with this project?

A number of engineering companies are working with us at the Montoir-de-Bretagne site, assisting us with project management, change coordination, and technical expertise in various areas. Our products span a wide variety of technical areas, so a very broad knowledge base is needed to fully comprehend potential problems and identify the best way to solve them.