Provence Grand Large is the first floating wind project in France, located 17 kilometers off the coast of Port Saint Louis du Rhône (near Marseille). In total, three 8.4 megawatt Siemens Gamesa turbines will stand tall on this floating wind farm. Their strategic positioning in waters approximately 100 meters deep underscores the main advantage of floating offshore wind technology: the ability to harness wind energy in deep waters, where conventional fixed-bottom offshore wind farms can’t be established.
Deeper waters, stronger winds
Floating wind farms are a game-changing renewable energy technology, harnessing powerful offshore winds further from the coast. Anchored to the seabed with mooring lines and buoyant structures, floating turbines tap into the more consistent and higher velocity winds. As a result, they can generate electricity with greater efficiency and less intermittency than their land-based counterparts. Moreover, their remote locations reduce the visual and noise impacts on coastal communities, enhancing their appeal.
Key players behind the project
Developed by EDF Renewables, a global vanguard in renewable energy, the Provence Grand Large project reflects the company’s mission to bolster wind energy deployment in France. Ownership of the wind farm rests with Parc Eolien Offshore de Provence Grand Large, an EDF Renewables subsidiary, in partnership with Enbridge Eolien France 2 S.à.r.l (EEF2). The latter is a subsidiary of the powerful tandem, Enbridge Inc. and CPP Investments.
A significant milestone was reached in May with the successful assembly of the first wind turbine, a collaboration involving Siemens Gamesa, SBM Offshore, and IFP Energies Nouvelles. Siemens Gamesa manufactured the turbine components at its factory in Le Havre, and the assembly took place on a novel tensioned line float developed by SBM Offshore and IFP Energies Nouvelles. With a height of 45 meters and a width of 70 meters, these tripod-shaped floats are equipped with two submersible buoys and an advanced tensioned-line anchoring system that eliminates seabed disturbance, thus protecting the marine ecosystem. Furthermore, the project also features dynamic cables that transfer electricity to the shore while flexibly adjusting to the floating motion of the platform.
Energizing the riviera
Set to be completed later this year, the Provence Grand Large wind farm will be a valuable addition to France’s renewable energy infrastructure. With a production capacity of approximately 25 megawatts, the wind farm is expected to provide power to thousands of homes, meeting the annual electricity needs of around 45,000 residents. As a significant advancement in floating offshore wind energy, this project will significantly contribute to France’s renewable energy goals.
While this small-scale pilot project aims to demonstrate the feasibility of innovative floating wind farm technology in technical and economic terms, the technology’s relative newness, higher initial costs, and maintenance difficulties have hindered widespread adoption.
SKF is already addressing wind turbine challenges by providing specialized solutions designed to enhance the efficiency and durability of wind turbines, including their floating offshore counterparts. Our cutting-edge sensors provide instant performance analytics to facilitate predictive maintenance and minimize unexpected downtime, while our condition monitoring systems leverage real-time data to fine-tune turbine performance.
Continued advancements in design and engineering like these, coupled with economies of scale, are expected to make floating wind farms a more common and cost-effective clean energy solution in the future.