Too many wind turbines in France?
As of March 31, we peaked at 17,910 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity, according to the latest “Panorama of renewable electricity” published this Thursday by the Syndicate of Renewable Energies (SER).
That is the equivalent of 15 to 18 nuclear reactors.
According to the Ministry of Ecological Transition, the amount of electricity produced by the wind farm represented "8.8% of national production over the year for the whole of 2020".
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Enough to position the country in the European average. But far from our German neighbors, champions in the field, with 62,600 MW of installed capacity, which represents around sixty nuclear reactors. The French delay can be explained in particular by the mobilizations against the installation of these “wind turbines”. Already in the 1990s, demonstrators opposed the launch of the “Eole 2005” program: 361 MW spread over 55 sites throughout France. A project largely abandoned a few years later in the face of contestation.
Since then, with generous public support flirting this year with 6 billion euros, the wind has blown on the blades.
And wind farms have flourished across the country, despite appeals against projects that are slowing deployment.
While it would be necessary to install
2 GW additional each year to achieve the objectives set by the end of the decade, only 1.175 GW was connected to the grid last year.
"12,000 jobs could be created by 2030"
Offshore wind could theoretically help boost the sector. Except that France missed the boat. Not a single offshore wind turbine is to date connected to the grid, while Germany has a fleet in the North Sea equivalent to seven nuclear reactors (7.7 GW). “We were very late, deplores Jean-Louis Bal, president of the SER. What we are trying to catch up with today. Four projects of 500 MW each
(Editor's note: around sixty wind turbines)
, approved through two calls for tenders in 2012 and 2014, are being rolled out. The one off Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique) should be operational next year. Followed the following year by Fécamp (Seine-Maritime) and Saint-Brieuc (Côtes-d'Armor). Finally Courseulles-sur-Mer (Calvados) in 2024 should close a first chapter despite the local rebellion, for a total of 2,000 MW. Two other projects, in Noirmoutier (Vendée) and Dieppe-Le Tréport (Manche), are still under appeal.
Another round of calls for tenders will then be launched by the State. One in the center of the Channel, one in the south of Brittany between Belle-Ile and the island of Groix, another off Oléron and two in the Mediterranean, all equipped with floating wind turbines. France hopes, thanks to this promising technology, to regain a head start. Especially since offshore wind power holds promise for local jobs. All the machines will be manufactured in France, in the factories of Le Havre (Seine-Maritime) and Saint-Nazaire, as well as in Cherbourg (Manche) for the blades. “The sector has already created 3,000 jobs,” recalls Jean-Louis Bal. 12,000 more could see the light of day by 2030. ”