The Conseil d’Etat, France’s supreme court in administrative matters, has approved the operating permit for EDF Renewables and Enbridge’s 480MW Saint Nazaire offshore wind project, bringing to a close a lengthy process of appeals.
“The Conseil d’Etat’s decision is a ringing endorsement of the robust groundwork undertake by EDF Renewables’ and Enbridge’s teams which have been working for 10 years with professionalism, openness and dedication on bringing the Saint-Nazaire offshore wind project through to fruition,” said EDF Renewables chief executive Bruno Bensasson.
“This landmark project fits perfectly with the EDF Group’s Cap 2030 strategy of doubling its worldwide renewable energy capacity in operation by 2030. We hope that it will be the first step towards an accelerated growth trajectory for offshore wind energy in France in the framework of the PPE [multiannual energy program].”
The Eolien Maritime France (EMF) consortium of EDF and Enbridge in a 2012 tender had won with bids for three offshore wind projects, among them next to Saint Nazaire also Courseulles-sur-Mer and Fécamp.
Despite carrying out what it says were extensive environmental studies and wide-ranging consultation at Saint Nazaire, EDF and its partners had faced headwinds from fishery and environmentalists that at times threatened to derail the project.
The Conseil d’Etat ruling will enable EDF Renewables and Enbridge to make progress with the project financing process before the investment is given its final go-ahead, EDF said.
EMF in April had announced that it now plans to employ Siemens Gamesa turbines for two out of its three offshore wind projects off France, leaving rival GE Renewable Energy as preferred turbine supplier of only one instead of three projects.
Siemens Gamesa snatching away two of EMF’s three turbine deals with combined close to 1GW was a major blow for GE’s offshore wind ambitions.
The US company’s offshore plans since have recovered, though, with the (although vague) announcement by Swedish utility Vattenfall to employ GE’s Haliade-X 12MW model at future projects in Europe, and the announcement to build the super-sized turbine in China.
GE Renewables welcomed the French court decision clearing EMF to proceed with Saint Nazaire.
“This is a significant step for offshore wind in France, and we are excited to be part of it,” the company said, which has its headquarters in the Paris region.
“GE remains committed to execute one offshore wind project and our team in St Nazaire will move forward with the assembly of the Haliade-150 6MW once Éolien Maritime France reaches financial close and issues the Notice-to-proceed.”