France Sets Its Sights Higher: Offshore Wind Target Set to Surpass 40 GW

France Sets Its Sights Higher: Offshore Wind Target Set to Surpass 40 GW

French Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher reveals plans to exceed the initial 40 GW offshore wind target, igniting discussions on the country’s ambition in the industry.

When President Emmanuel Macron announced France’s energy objectives for 2050 in February last year, a target of 40 GW for offshore wind power development was unveiled. However, Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher declared that this target is just the beginning, emphasizing the need to raise it to meet the country’s growing electricity demands. Pannier-Runacher sees the 40 GW as a minimum benchmark rather than a maximum limit, setting the stage for an intriguing debate on the future of French offshore wind energy.

Speaking at the Seanergy marine renewable energy trade fair on Tuesday (20 June), Pannier-Runacher highlighted the upcoming Energy and Climate Programming Act, which will play a pivotal role in determining France’s energy development. She stated that the revised targets will align with the working document drafted by the Ecological Planning Secretariat, reporting to the Prime Minister’s office. In addition to suggesting a revised target of 45 GW for offshore wind power by 2050, the document delves into Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s call to align with the EU’s 2030 climate goal of reducing emissions by 55% compared to 1990 levels.

France’s urgency to accelerate renewable energy efforts becomes apparent as it aims to make up for missing EU targets for 2020, compounded by the EU’s subsequent raise in its renewable energy consumption goal for France. Now, France is aiming for a 42.5% share of renewables in the EU’s overall energy consumption by 2030, necessitating a significant boost in offshore wind power.

To achieve the higher targets, the French government has initiated public consultations with regional authorities and local stakeholders, allowing for the identification of suitable areas for wind farm installations by 2024. Furthermore, a plan for the maritime seafront is being developed, with a public debate scheduled for the autumn. This inclusive approach seeks to engage citizens in the offshore wind development process and promote acceptance within local populations.

While the Ecological Planning Secretariat’s working document proposes a target of 45 GW by 2050, there are calls from industry players for even greater ambition. Michel Gioria from the trade association France énergie éolienne believes that streamlining government procedures could result in achieving between 50 and 60 GW. Notably, France’s electricity grid operator, RTE, estimates the country’s offshore wind potential to be as high as 62 GW, highlighting the untapped resources yet to be harnessed. With only 8 GW of offshore wind currently installed or in progress, France has ample room to expand its capacity.

France has made headway in offshore wind development, with its first offshore wind farm already operational off the coast of Saint-Nazaire. Additional projects with a combined capacity of 1.5 GW are under construction, and further calls for tenders are anticipated by the end of the year. The Ecological Planning Secretariat also plans to exceed Macron’s 40 GW target for onshore wind power by increasing annual installed capacity.

As France sets its sights higher in the realm of offshore wind, the nation’s energy ambitions are poised for a significant boost. The prospect of surpassing the initial 40 GW target and capitalizing on the country’s vast wind energy potential unveils an exciting path toward a greener future.


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