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A Decade After Approval, France Installs Its First Wind Farm at Sea

A consortium led by Electricite de France SA’s renewables unit began constructing turbines for France’s first offshore wind farm a decade after getting official authorization, as the country seeks to diversify beyond nuclear power.

The Saint Nazaire wind farm is located 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) off the west coast and is expected to produce 20% of the electricity demand in the Loire-Atlantique region, which has a population of 1.5 million people. The 480-megawatt facility is expected to be finished this year.

The turbines’ installation will put France into Europe’s expanding offshore wind sector, which is now controlled by the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Germany. By 2030, France wants renewable energy to account for nearly a third of the total energy mix.

Since the government allocated projects to developers in 2012, it has taken approximately a decade to get the first turbine installed due to local opposition and legal issues.

Renewable-energy prices have plummeted since then, and the size of turbines has increased. The 6-megawatt machines built at Saint Nazaire are half the size of GE’s largest, but developers aren’t always able to purchase the largest machines since they must adhere to the specifications laid down in planning documents.

EDF’s project partners include Enbridge Inc. and CPP Investments.

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