Nantes Saint-Nazaire is leading the way in offshore wind technology. Since 2013, the Pays de la Loire has boasted remarkable industrial growth. With the construction of two offshore wind farms off the coast of Saint-Nazaire and Noirmoutier, more and more businesses and universities are getting involved. Large industrial corporations like shipbuilders STX and DNCS have ramped up their R&D. Others have opened operations here. In late 2014, Alstom, now owned by General Electric (GE), opened two plants in Montoir, near Saint-Nazaire, to assemble nacelles and manufacture wind turbine alternators. At the same time, also in Saint-Nazaire, STX built its Anemos plant to produce wind turbine foundations and electrical substations for offshore farms.
The offshore wind farms are expected to emerge in 2017. But GE plants in the Estuary are already in full swing when it comes to exports. They just delivered their machines to the first offshore wind farm in the United States, and more than 300 orders for wind turbines are underway for France and Germany.
To facilitate pre-assembly of the wind turbines, the Port of Nantes-Saint-Nazaire has created an XXL logistics hub. In 2018, 80 Haliade wind turbines will transit through the hub to be installed on the wind farm located off Saint-Nazaire.
SEM-REV for full-scale sea trials
All MRE technologies (floating and bottom-mounted offshore wind turbines, tidal power, wave power, thermal energy) are being explored in Nantes Saint-Nazaire. Investments and research are being conducted, taking advantage of the potential of large infrastructure facilities like the SEM-REV marine test site, run by the École Centrale de Nantes. Located off Le Croisic, it is one of four to receive funding from the European Foresea project. This 11 million euro fund will be used to launch calls for proposals to select and test new technologies at sea.
1000 MRE researchers in 2020
Technological research at the Jules Verne climatic wind tunnel, the Technocampus platforms, engineering schools (Centrale Nantes) and the University of Nantes (12 laboratories) supports the development of MRE in the area, in various fields including the durability of materials, storage and transport of energy and marine spaces. By 2020, MRE will mobilize at least 1,000 researchers in the metro area.
When it comes to education and training, the region today offers programmes tailored to the needs of the MRE sector, all along the value chain: engineering, construction, mechanics and materials, installation and connection, operation, maintenance and more.