The French government is planning to launch a tender for several pilot floating offshore wind farms, Reuters reports.
Matthieu Monnier, head of offshore wind at France Energie Eolienne (FEE) was reported as saying he expected two-three floating turbine projects with capacities of 15-60 MW each, for a total capacity of maximum 100 to 120 MW.
Portugal and Norway have led floating turbine technology development, with a single floating turbine each, and Portugal plans to build a 25 MW floating wind demonstration farm. Japan also has floating offshore wind projects.
"In Europe, the French offshore tender would be the first of this size," Monnier told Reuters.
Four areas on French shores have already been identified for offshore wind development, including Leucate, Brescou and Fos-sur-Mer on the Riviera, which has year-round strong winds and where the Mediterranean sea floor slopes steeply. A fourth area is around the island of Ile de Groix, off southern Brittany.
The tender is expected to test several offshore wind technologies, possibly including turbines with a vertical rotor axis, as opposed to the horizontal axis common in most machines.
French firm Nenuphar - in partnership with EDF Energies Nouvelles, nuclear group Areva and oil industry engineering group Technip - is developing a 2 MW vertical-axis turbine.
Ideol has developed a floating platform for offshore wind turbines which it says is competitive with bottom-fixed turbine foundations at depths from 35 meters.
In Portugal, utility EDP Renewables has run its prototype WindFloat turbine on a three-legged floating platform for several years.
In Norway, oil group Statoil has developed a turbine mounted on a ballasted vertical steel cylinder. It has plans to float several of the turbines in in Scotland.
Image: The Fukushima Forward 2MW floating offshore wind turbine. Photo from Fukushima Forward.