© Shutterstock
  • These facilities in the Mediterranean are the first floating offshore wind farms to be deployed in France, each using different innovative technologies.
  • ADEME, the French public agency for ecological transition, selected the projects following a call for tenders held as part of the government's Investment Programme for the Future.
  • The projects will benefit from the experience of the European Investment Bank, which has already financed several floating offshore wind farms in Europe.
  • These EIB investments are supported by the European Commission with one of the projects backed by the InnovFin EDP (energy demonstration projects) facility, and the other two guaranteed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) announces the conclusion of three financing agreements, with the support of the European Commission, for installing and commissioning three floating offshore wind farms off the French Mediterranean coast. These projects will help accelerate the energy transition in France and foster the emergence of a new generation of floating offshore wind platforms. Each project is based on a different innovative technology, and all of the floating wind turbines are anchored to the seabed by means of underwater cables. This innovation means that the turbines can be installed further away from the coast in areas where wind exposure is optimal, and also limits the ecological footprint of the projects. These three technological demonstrators, initiated by ADEME and co-financed by the EIB, have already provided crucial feedback for the future of the floating offshore wind industry, placing France at the forefront of this technology’s development.

The first, and easternmost, project is being carried out by Parc Eolien Offshore de Provence Grand Large, a subsidiary of EDF Renouvelables, and Enbridge Eolien France 2 S.à.r.l (EEF2), a subsidiary of Enbridge Inc. and CPP Investments. The EIB’s €50 million loan contributes to the design, development, construction, commissioning, operation, maintenance and dismantling of a floating offshore wind project consisting of three Siemens Gamesa turbines with a total capacity of around 25 MW. They are installed on tensioned line floats designed by SBM Offshore and IFP Energies Nouvelles. Located 40 km west of Marseille and 17 km off the coast of Port Saint Louis du Rhône in waters around 100 metres deep, the project is scheduled to come on stream in 2023. This floating offshore wind project, a technological first, is supported by InnovFin EDP facility NER 300, the Commission’s Regional Development Fund and the Southern Region. Under previous agreements signed in 2020 and 2021, the EIB is already working with these partners to finance offshore wind farms in the Normandy region in Fécamp (71 wind turbines with a capacity of 497 MW) and Courseulles-sur-Mer (64 wind turbines with a capacity of 448 MW).

Eolmed, the second project, is developed by independent electricity producer Qair and will be installed more than 18 km off the coast of Narbonne in the Aude department in the Occitanie region. It is being financed to the tune of €85 million by the EIB, with a guarantee by the European Commission's European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), and construction will start in the autumn of 2022 for commissioning in mid-2024. This pilot farm will consist of three 10 MW Vestas wind turbines installed on semi-submersible barge floats. The turbines will be connected to the electricity transmission system by a submarine cable.

Finally, the westernmost project is the Eoliennes Flottantes du Golfe du Lion project. It is led by its two co-shareholders: Ocean Winds (a joint venture between EDP Renewables and Engie) and Banque des Territoires (part of the Caisse des Dépôts Group, or CDC). The project consists of three 10 MW Vestas wind turbines installed on floats. It uses the WindFloat technology developed by Principle Power which is already deployed on the EIB-funded WindFloat Atlantic project in Portugal. Located more than 16 km off the coast of Leucate (Aude) and Le Barcarès (Pyrénées-Orientales) at a depth of 70 metres, this floating wind farm has secured €75 million in EIB financing and is also guaranteed by EFSI. Its launch is scheduled for the end of 2023.

EIB Vice President Ambroise Fayolle said: "These three loans for the first floating offshore wind farms in France are fully in line with the EIB's strategy of providing massive support for the development of renewable energy and the energy transition in Europe. As the European Union's climate bank, our role is to promote and support innovations such as floating offshore wind turbines that provide technological solutions to effectively combat global warming. Through these high-quality projects in which leading public and private players join forces, the EIB is particularly proud to be participating in the development of a French and European industrial sector at the forefront of marine renewable energy."

European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni said: “I welcome this EU funding for the generation of renewable energy in France. Thanks to this investment, three floating offshore wind farms will help provide people and businesses with clean energy. This is more important than ever, as we are working to diversify our energy sources and accelerate the clean energy transition.”

With the support of other financial partners, the EIB can contribute its experience in the industrial, technological and financial aspects involved in setting up complex pilot projects of this kind that use legal structures for non-recourse project financing. These projects won ADEME's call for floating wind projects under the French government’s Investment Programme for the Future and are therefore paving the way for future commercial floating wind farm tenders that are underway or will soon be organised.

For the EIB, investing in innovation and the fight against global warming is at the heart of its priorities and key to meeting the European Green Deal’s objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared with 1990 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

The European Union Bank has noted expertise in financing offshore wind turbines, both installed and floating, and more generally in renewable energies, which are major drivers for job creation. As early as in 2018, it provided €60 million in financing for the first continental European floating offshore wind project, WindFloat Atlantic, led by the Windplus Consortium (Ocean Winds, Repsol and Principle Power), off the coast of Portugal. It has therefore demonstrated that it stands ready to support the development of this new European industrial sector in the same way that it has supported the development of the land-based and offshore wind sector over the past 20 years.

Background information

About the European Investment Bank (EIB)

The EIB, whose shareholders are the 27 Member States of the European Union, is the European Union's long-term financing institution. It finances high-quality investments that contribute to the European Union's objectives. Since 2019, it has accelerated its transformation into a climate bank by committing to devoting at least 50% of its financing from 2025 to investments that contribute to the fight against climate change and the mitigation of its effects. In 2021, it already comfortably reached this target in France by devoting two thirds of its €9.2 billion in investments to projects in renewable energy, energy efficiency in buildings and the development of sustainable mobility.

About InnovFin Energy Demonstration Projects

This facility, soon to be replaced by the InvestEU Green Transition Product, provides loans, loan guarantees or equity-type financing to innovative demonstration projects to accelerate the energy transition, in particular to bridge the financing gap between demonstration and commercialisation. 

About the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI)

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) is the central pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. It provides first-loss guarantees, enabling the EIB to invest in more, and often riskier, projects. The projects and agreements approved for financing under EFSI should make it possible to mobilise €524.3 billion of investment (including €84.9 billion in France) and support more than 1.4 million small and medium-sized enterprises across the European Union.