We at PES have been marvelling at the inexorable growth of the offshore industry in recent months, having witnessed a raft of new project announcements from all corners of the globe. The US, Germany, Spain, Scotland and a host of other nations have all finally come around to the power of offshore energy, but we didn’t expect to see France entering the fray with such vigour.
The nation has just announced a €10bn offshore wind farm building programme that will see 600 wind turbines erected at 10 sites off the coast over the next five years.
An unnamed official leaked details that ministers were putting the finishing touches to the plan and would launch a tender for contracts to build and operate the wind farms in September 2010. He said the project was expected to provide 3,000MW of new wind energy capacity at cost of around €3.5m per megawatt, adding “this represents an investment programme of €10bn”.
And, if reports are to believed, the project is expected to act as precursor to a second round of offshore wind farms – the French government has mooted that it is hoping to deliver 6,000MW of offshore wind capacity by 2020. All of which provides the latest evidence of a shift in France’s energy strategy, which has seen the government step-up support for the renewable energy sector in recent months.
The country has traditionally relied on nuclear power, and as a result has one of the most low-carbon energy mixes in the industrialised world. However, earlier a €1.35bn investment programme designed to accelerate the development of emerging renewable technologies looks set to herald an admirable energy-shift.
So who’s next? The Chinese have just begun powering-up their first offshore farm in the Yangtze River delta near Shanghai, and officials have opened bids on creating three or four more offshore wind power projects that could generate 1,000 megawatts in total. The Norwegians and the Russians are ‘dipping their toes in the water’ and even the Indian government is showing signs of offshore enthusiasm.
For us within the industry, it’s almost akin to watching the Space Race back in the 50s and 60s – but this time, there are several countries competing. It’s good for the industry, it’s good for the economy, and ultimately, it’s good for the planet.
Keep checking back at www.pes.eu.com to keep fully up-to-date with the latest developments, and look out for our latest issue, which will be published soon.
Thanks for your time.
Simeon de la Torre
Editor, Power and Energy Solutions