the Groix-Belle-Ile project falls through

There will be no floating wind turbines off Groix and Belle-Ile-en-Mer (Morbihan). The Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell, one of the three members of the consortium responsible for financing, building and operating the “pilot farm” with the Banque des Territoires (Caisse des dépôts et consignations) and China General Nuclear Power Corporation, has announced, Tuesday, November 15, the withdrawal of the project, confirming information published the same day on the site of Echoes.

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This project was “faced with several technical, commercial and financial challenges (…) in a context of constantly increasing costs and very strong constraints in terms of inflation and the supply chain”, according to the statement from Shell. The sharp rise in raw material prices and the surge in energy have got the better of the “economic viability” from Groix-Belle-Ile park.

After a call for tenders, the project for three wind turbines was awarded in 2016 for an estimated cost of 300 million euros. Shell entered it in 2019, after the acquisition from Veolia of the French company Eolfi, developer of the “farm”. But it was the victim of cascading defections. That of the American General Electric, supposed to supply the wind turbines (masts, turbines and blades), in 2019. It was replaced by the Japanese-Danish MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, which also gave up. In charge of the floating platform, Naval Group announced, at the beginning of 2021, the cessation of its activity in renewable marine energies, sold to the Italian Saipem, to refocus on the construction of military ships.

With this failure, the Chinese CGN is withdrawing a little more from Europe, after the decision of the British authorities to no longer entrust it with the construction and operation of nuclear power plants in the United Kingdom. On the other hand, Shell maintains its strategy of developing renewables to offer other sources of energy than hydrocarbons, like all European oil companies. It is participating in tenders for floating wind power in southern Brittany (a 250 megawatt farm) and in the Mediterranean (two farms of 250 MW each), the results of which are expected in 2023.

A very daring bet

The Ministry of Ecological Transition “regrets the abandonment of the project, which is the consequence in particular of the cessation of production by Vestas of the turbines to supply the park”. He nevertheless recalls that three other pilot farms will be commissioned in the next two years in the Mediterranean, by EDF Renewables, Engie and TotalEnergies. The ministry believes that France put itself in working order very early [2016] to structure a strong floating wind energy sector”in particular because it has a very good wind regime.

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