Marine Renewable Energy

Antoine ADAM
Business development manager- Manufacturing

Marine Renewable Energy: Huge Infrastructure

Preparing to welcome two offshore wind farms in  2022, the Nantes Saint-Nazaire metro area is already looking ahead. It is developing industrial units and high-level research and development capabilities, supported by large infrastructure facilities unique in France on all MRE technologies.

Large industrial firms show the way

The Nantes Saint-Nazaire metro area is home to a number of historical industrial firms that have moved into Marine Renewable Energy (MRE). Chantiers de l'Atlantique builds electric substations and foundations, and NavalGroup is exploring new avenues such as tidal turbines and ocean thermal energy conversion. Others, like General Electric, opened operations here specifically for this purpose.

SMEs form networks to boost industrial performance

Driven by the presence of large industrial firms in the area, the marine renewable energy sector has strong ambitions. Many innovative SMEs are moving into this emerging sector, such as Innosea, Geps Techno, HydrOcean and Natural Power. They are supported by three clusters, EMC2, S2E2 and PASCA, and the MRE branch of the Neopolia cluster which brings together 115 companies.

Test sites

Around Nantes Saint-Nazaire, two sites specialize in the testing required for these new technologies, one at the Port, the other at sea. SEM-REV helps demonstrate tidal, wave and offshore wind energy technologies in real-sea conditions.

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 Chantiers de l'Atlantique 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, Atlantique Offshore Energy built its Anemos plant to produce wind turbine foundations and electrical substations for offshore farms.

XXL infrastructure

The offshore wind farms emerged in 2022. 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. 80 Haliade wind turbines 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 

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 offshore renewable energy (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 Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) sector, all along the value chain: engineering, construction, mechanics and materials, installation and connection, operation, maintenance and more.

Key figures from Marine Renewable Energy


jobs in Nantes-Saint-Nazaire


French industrial hub for MRE.


students are involved in the Marine Renewable Energy sector.

Bottom-mounted wind farms
Originally designed on the model of onshore turbines, offshore wind turbines have adapted to the marine environment: resistant to corrosion, storms, and the stresses created by the mass of water. In Nantes Saint-Nazaire, these technologies are fully mature.
Floating wind farms
The first floating wind turbine will be installed in France in spring 2018 off Le Croisic, at the SEM-REV site of the École Centrale de Nantes. Dubbed Floatgen, this project brings together seven European partners, with strong involvement of the Pays de la Loire Region. An alternative to bottom-mounted wind farms, floating wind farms can be built far out at sea (more than 15 km from shore) for less impact on near-shore activities.
Tidal Power
Tidal power harnesses the strength of marine and river currents to turn it into energy. Complementary to offshore wind farms, tidal turbines are the subject of R&D projects in Nantes Saint-Nazaire. France will launch tenders by the end of the decade to install 2 Gigawatt capacities (tidal turbines and floating wind turbines).
Wave power and thermal energy
The Saint-Nazaire start-up Geps Techno develops technologies to capture wave energy. A collaborative design project of a 500 KW demonstrator 25 meters in diameter was launched, with the first tests on the SEM-REV platform.
Ocean thermal energy conversion, an as underdeveloped resources, is showing promise, particularly for the islands. NavalGroup has made it a central pillar of its strategy and is a pioneer on the subject.

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