EIB Bankrolls Three Floating Wind Farms Offshore France

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has concluded three financing agreements, with the support of the European Commission, for installing and commissioning three floating offshore wind farms off the French Mediterranean coast.

These facilities in the Mediterranean are the first floating offshore wind farms to be deployed in France, each using different innovative technologies, EIB said.

The first, and easternmost, project is being carried out by Parc Eolien Offshore de Provence Grand Large, a subsidiary of EDF Renouvelables, and Enbridge Eolien France 2 S.à.r.l (EEF2), a subsidiary of Enbridge Inc. and CPP Investments.

EIB’s EUR 50 million loan contributes to the design, development, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance, and dismantling of a floating offshore wind project consisting of three Siemens Gamesa turbines with a total capacity of around 25 MW.

The turbines will be installed on tensioned line floats designed by SBM Offshore and IFP Energies Nouvelles. Located 40 kilmetres west of Marseille and 17 kilometres off the coast of Port Saint Louis du Rhône in waters around 100 metres deep, the project is scheduled to come on stream in 2023.

This floating offshore wind project, a technological first, is supported by InnovFin EDP facility NER 300, the European Regional Development Fund and the Southern Region. Under previous agreements signed in 2020 and 2021, the EIB is already working with these partners to finance fixed-bottom offshore wind farms in the Normandy region in Fécamp and Courseulles-sur-Mer.

EolMed, the second project, is developed by independent electricity producer Qair and will be installed more than 18 kilometres off the coast of Narbonne in the Aude department in the Occitanie region.

It is being financed to the tune of EUR 85 million by EIB, with a guarantee by the European Commission’s European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), and construction will start in the autumn of 2022 for commissioning in mid-2024.

This pilot farm will consist of three 10 MW Vestas wind turbines installed on semi-submersible barge floats. The turbines will be connected to the electricity transmission system by a submarine cable.

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Finally, the westernmost project is the Eoliennes Flottantes du Golfe du Lion project. It is led by its two co-shareholders: Ocean Winds, a joint venture between EDP Renewables and Engie, and Banque des Territoires, part of the Caisse des Dépôts Group.

The project consists of three 10 MW Vestas wind turbines installed on floats. It uses the WindFloat technology developed by Principle Power which is already deployed on the EIB-funded WindFloat Atlantic project in Portugal.

Located more than 16 kilometres off the coast of Leucate and Le Barcarès at a depth of 70 metres, this floating wind farm has secured EUR 75 million in EIB financing and is also guaranteed by EFSI. Its launch is scheduled for the end of 2023.

In total, EIB is providing EUR 210 million in financing for the three projects.

European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni said: ”I welcome this EU funding for the generation of renewable energy in France. Thanks to this investment, three floating offshore wind farms will help provide people and businesses with clean energy. This is more important than ever, as we are working to diversify our energy sources and accelerate the clean energy transition.”

With the support of other financial partners, EIB said it can contribute its experience in the industrial, technological and financial aspects involved in setting up complex pilot projects of this kind that use legal structures for non-recourse project financing. These projects won ADEME’s call for floating wind projects under the French government’s Investment Programme for the Future and are therefore paving the way for future commercial floating wind farm tenders that are underway or will soon be organised, EIB said.

”These three loans for the first floating offshore wind farms in France are fully in line with the EIB’s strategy of providing massive support for the development of renewable energy and the energy transition in Europe,” EIB Vice President Ambroise Fayolle said.

”As the European Union’s climate bank, our role is to promote and support innovations such as floating offshore wind turbines that provide technological solutions to effectively combat global warming. Through these high-quality projects in which leading public and private players join forces, the EIB is particularly proud to be participating in the development of a French and European industrial sector at the forefront of marine renewable energy.”

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Photo: Illustration; Photo source: JDR Cables (WindFloat Atlantic)