France’s environment agency ADEME is calling for projects between three to six turbines, with the capacity for at least five megawatts per turbine.

The French Government has made €150m available, one third as investment subsidies, two thirds as a loan, according to a Reuters report.

ADEME has identified three sites in the Mediterranean and one site in the Bay of Biscay, where the technology would be trialled.

Portugal and Norway have both built single floating turbines, but it is thought the French project will be the first to test the technology at scale. Earlier this week, a 7MW floating turbine was installed in Japan, becoming the largest such turbine yet built.

Floating wind power has at least one major advantage over traditional offshore wind, which can only be deployed in waters up to 50m deep.

However industry analysts suggested that developers could be expected to bid for subsidies at between €150 and €275 per megawatt, slightly above above the usual subsidies for normal offshore wind.

In the UK’s 2014 Contracts for Difference auction, offshore wind projects were awarded strike prices of €162 and €170 per megawatt.

Industry experts expect the French Government to select two or three bids with a total combined capacity of 45 to 100 megawatts, according to Reuters.

French revolution

The announcement comes two weeks after France passed a major law that aims to revolutionise the country’s energy system.

The act promises to halve the country’s energy consumption by 2050 and increase renewable energy to a third of total consumption by 2030. It also requires France reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. 

France obtained 5% of its energy from renewables (excluding hydropower) in 2014,.

The relatively new concept of floating renewables projects has seen more traction in the solar sector thus far. In Japan, Kyocera has already completed a 2.9 MW floating solar farm, and expects to complete an enormous 13.4 MW plant, capable of powering 4,700 houses, in March 2016.

Brad Allen

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