Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

True / False

What is the energy context in the world and in France?

At the global level: the reality of global warming and the depletion of resources

Nearly 80% of the world's energy consumption (transport, industry, heating)* comes from fossil fuels such as oil or coal. However, according to the International Energy Agency, oil reserves will be exhausted by 2050 and gas reserves by 2070.

Global warming is now a reality. It is linked to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. These are produced in particular during the combustion of fossil fuels. If no proactive energy policy is put in place, the temperature of the Earth's surface could rise sharply. Under these conditions, it would rise from 1.8 to 4°C by 2100**.

* Source: IEA, Key world energy statistics, 2009
** Source: World Bank report, November 2012

The French situation: stagnant consumption, declining nuclear production and strong growth in wind power

Since the 1990s, electricity consumption, corrected for weather contingencies, has increased by more than half (1990: 300 TWh, 2019: 473 TWh).

Since 2010, electricity consumption has been stagnating, mainly due to the tertiarisation of the economy and the efforts made in energy efficiency.

In 2019, French electricity production amounted to 537.7 TWh. Down by around 2% compared with 2018, it is the consequence of the numerous outages of nuclear groups, leading to a drop in electricity production in this sector (-3.5%) and the reduction in hydroelectricity production (-12.1%). The decline in hydro and nuclear generation led to an increase in fossil-fuel thermal generation (+9.8%), despite a very sharp drop in coal-fired power plant output. At the same time, the year 2019 saw a very sharp increase in electricity production from solar (+7.8%) and wind (+21.2%) sources.

Why offshore wind turbines?

Clean energy

Wind energy is considered clean energy since its electrical production does not generate any greenhouse gases, effluent, waste or environmental pollution. At the end of 2019, the cumulative wind power capacity in service in France was 16.6 GW (16,600 MW). It covers the electricity needs of more than 7 million households each year. In total, more than 1,450 wind farms are installed throughout France. They alone produced the equivalent of 6.3% of France's electricity production (34.1 TWh).

What are the differences between onshore and offshore wind?

Offshore, the wind is both stronger and more constant than inland. Compared to onshore wind, offshore wind offers greater electrical generating capacity because more turbines can be installed and they are larger and therefore more powerful.

Offshore wind energy must take into account the specificities of the marine environment. There are many issues at stake, particularly in the design of wind turbines, foundations and in the operation phase. These are two modes of production based on a common resource: wind, but whose engineering presents significant differences.

Une vidéo de Jamy : l’esprit sorcier qui cite expressément le projet de Dunkerque et Saint-Brieuc.

Watch the video

Offshore wind energy potential

To date, only one offshore wind turbine has been installed in France. It is a floating wind turbine, a 2 MW demonstrator located off the coast of Le Croisic.

Compared to its European neighbors, France is currently lagging far behind in terms of offshore wind energy. Five countries account for more than 98% of the European offshore wind energy market (21,767 MW). These are the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. The United Kingdom alone is home to nearly half of Europe's installed offshore wind capacity (9,945 MW). At the end of 2019, the total installed wind capacity in Europe was 22,069 MW.

European Countries Offshore wind capacity installed in 2019 (MW) Total installed offshore wind capacity (MW)
United Kingdom 1 764 9 945
Germany 1 111 7 445
Denmark 374 1 703
Belgium 370 1 556
The Netherlands 1 118
TOTAL 21 767


However, France benefits from very favourable conditions for the development of offshore wind energy:

  • 3500 km of coastline and three well-oriented sea fronts: English Channel-North Sea, Atlantic, Mediterranean whose orientation is favourable to the installation of offshore wind farms.
  • A strong industrial know-how ready to be mobilized in the offshore wind sector (SGRE, Naventia, LM wind, GE),
  • A structuring of the sector through clusters (groups of companies and institutions in the same field of expertise) and major competitiveness clusters such as Bretagne Pôle Naval in Lorient or Néopolia in Saint-Nazaire.
  • A strong capacity for innovation in new technologies.

Why did the French state select the Bay of Saint-Brieuc?

Saint-Brieuc, a location defined by the French government in 2011

In 2011, the French government has defined several zones for the installation of offshore wind turbines: 3 in Normandy, 1 in Pays de Loire and 1 in Brittany, that of the Bay of Saint Brieuc. In these zones, the State then organised a call for tenders. Winner in April 2012 of this call for tenders for the offshore wind farm project in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc, Ailes Marines carried out all the studies required to develop a quality project. These studies have been controlled and validated by the State's decentralised bodies and services. Ailes Marines has obtained the regulatory authorizationsrequired for the construction and operation of the wind farm in April 2017. The Saint-Brieuc wind farm is located outside the Natura 2000 zones and more than 16 km from the coast.

The Bay of Saint-Brieuc is a high place for fishing forscallops . To preserve this activity, the wind farm has been located outside the main scallop fishingarea , and moved 6 km to North tomove away from the main scallop fishingarea .

Ailes Marines SAS was designated winner of the call for tenders on 23 April 2012.

Since the early 2000s, the State has been committed to the energy transition (Grenelle de l'environnement in 2007, law on energy transition for green growth in 2015). It is in this context that the first offshore wind energy tenders were issued. They follow a planning and consultation process set up in all maritime metropolitan regions. The Saint-Brieuc area was one of the first 5 defined by the French government in 2011. Ailes Marines SAS was designated the winner on 23 April 2012.

The specifications of the call for tenders set as a main objective the construction of a wind farm with a capacity of 480 to 500 MW. The project had to be within a predefined perimeter of 180 km².

It is in this context that Ailes Marines has designed a project with a lesser impact in a technical and environmental optimisation process based on the recommendations of specialists and local players.

An answer to Brittany's energy dependency

Brittany is very dependent on energy.

In 2019, Brittany consumed 22.6 TWh of electricity and produced approximately 4 TWh.

To cover all its needs, Brittany imported about 19 TWh of electricity.

It relies heavily on interregional solidarity.

Indeed, its dependence is very strong, as Brittany imported more than 82% of the electricity it consumed.

Brittany's energy and climate roadmap (Breizh Cop) has several objectives:

  • Controlling energy demand,
  • Developing renewable energies,
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
  • Improve air quality,
  • Adapting the territory to climate change.

With 2730 km of coastline, the largest coastline in France, powerful currents, regular winds and the largest tides in Europe, Brittany has an exceptional potential for testing, experimenting and exploiting the various sources of marine energy.

The offshore wind farm project in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc will play a key role in this strategy. With 496 MW of installed capacity and 1,820 GWh of annual production, the project will cover around 8% of Brittany's energy consumption.

What is the consultation mechanism?

More than 1,000 meetings have since been held with stakeholders.

For Ailes Marines, the success of the project is largely based on the appropriation of the stakes involved in building a real territorial project. This is why, even before the publication of the State's call for tenders in 2009, meetings were held locally with stakeholders.

Since 11 January 2012, the date on which the tender documents were submitted to the CRE (Energy Regulation Commission), Ailes Marines has continued and stepped up its consultation actions with all the players in the area (elected officials, socio-economic players, sea users, environmental and citizen associations) and has participated in the following activitiess Numerous sporting and cultural events in Côtes-d'Armor, Brittany (la Quinocéenne, Trail Glazig, Trail Traversée de la baie, Rando tour, La Vaillante, Art Rock, Rock'n Toques, Photoreporter festival, exhibition of naval painters, underwater photography festival, Gabier du Goélo, IUT regatta, multi 50 trophies...), Brittany Sailing Clubs Cup, Trophée habitable 22, Solitaire du Figaro, Scallop Festival, Week-end AIGL, Engineering Sciences Olympiad, Salon Breizh transition, Salon Pro et Mer, Science Festival, Olympiad of trades, conferences, interventions in schools, colleges, high schools, Master etc..)

In total, Ailes Marines took part in nearly 1,300 meetings and events throughout the Britain territory.

It is on this close dialogue that the consortium has relied to develop and define the offshore wind project in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc.