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Wind Energy in France

2020 wind energy numbers

In 2020, over 1.1 GW new onshore wind was built in France. This number shows a third consecutive year of decrease, well below the average of 1.5 GW over the previous years. It should in the future increase to 2 GW per year to reach the newly set targets for 2023.

This brings the total wind power capacity to 17.6 GW. Wind and solar now jointly represent 50% of France renewable installed power capacity, while wind alone represented 30% of the total renewable electricity production and 8.8 % of the national electricity demand in 2020. Total annual electrical energy output from wind was 39.7 TWh, a significant increase from 2019. This increase is the result of higher installed power capacity, in conjunction with a capacity factor of 26.5 %, substantially higher than the year before.

To learn more about France's wind energy sector, please read their chapter in the IEA Wind TCP 2020 Annual Report.

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Megawatt

Total wind power capacity is 17,600 MW.
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Megawatt

Wind power capacity in France increased by 1,100 MW in 2020.
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Terawatt-time

France produces 39.7 TWh from wind energy, which accounts for 8.8% of the country’s electricity consumption.

National Targets

Along with the Paris Agreement during COP21, France defined new trajectories for renewables after adopting the Energy Transition for Green Growth Act in 2015. After that, the law related to Energy and Climate was enacted November 8th, 2019 and set new targets for energy, namely:

  • 23 % of renewable energy share in 2020
  • 33 % of renewable energy share in 2030 (40% in electricity), with a decrease of 40% of GHG emission (with respect to 2012)
  • A decrease for nuclear to 50% share of electricity

To practically reach these targets, the Pluriannual Energy Program (Programmation Pluriannuelle de l’Energie, PPE) defines renewable energy target trajectories between 2018 and 2023. New trajectories for each renewable energy source are defined in the PPE.

The decree enacting the PPE was published April 21st, 2020 with updated targets for 2023 and 2028. For 2023, targets are:

  • 1 GW land-based wind power capacity
  • 4 GW fixed bottom offshore wind
  • 1 GW solar energy
  • 7 GW hydro power

The PPE sets also targets for 2028 of between 33.2 and 34.7 GW of land-based wind power capacity and between 5.2 and 6.2 GW of offshore wind power capacity.

The PPE also includes a schedule and target prices for coming offshore wind tenders. Floating wind tenders are included, as explained in the following table.

Progress & Operational Details

During 2020, France reached a quantity of 1.1 GW  of new wind-power capacity, which is the third consecutive decrease of yearly installation. This deployment rate will require a step increase above 2 GW per year to reach the newly set targets of the PPE, for 2023. This leads to a total of 17.6 GW of installed capacity, with installed capacity concentrated in the North and East of the country.

With a significantly superior capacity factor (26.5%) than previous year thanks to increased capacity and better wind conditions, wind-generated electricity production totaled 39.7 TWh, more than 17% increase with respect to 2019. The percentage of electricity demand (excluding overseas territories) met by wind energy increased to 8.8%.

Three instances of onshore wind tenders happened in 2020 for a total of 1380 MW, with average prices decreasing from 65,4 €/MWh in 2017 to 59.7€/MWh for the 6th period ending in July 2020. The average name plate capacity for this last period is 3.1 MW, significantly above the average of the wind turbines currently installed (2.4 MW per wind turbine installed in 2019). It is worth noting that the maximum tip height exceeds 150 m for 72% of the selected projects.

The development of offshore wind progressed in 2020, with the start-up of the construction of 3 (Saint-Nazaire, Fécamp, Saint-Brieuc) of the 6 awarded wind parks from round 1 and 2 tenders. After the award of the Dunkerque project in 2019, a project of 1 GW is being tendered in 2020 in Normandy. It will enter a phase of competitive dialogue in 2021, along with the first floating wind tender for 250 MW in South Brittany.

National RDD Priorities and Budget

The development of offshore wind and large wind turbine technology has been a priority in the recent years. The French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) is the driving funding agency for applied R,D&D projects in this area. ADEME funds and administers three kinds of projects: PhD theses; R&D projects for intermediate technology readiness levels (TRL); and the Programme des Investissements d’Avenir (PIA), which is dedicated to industrial projects, and funded by subsidies, reimbursable aids, and possibly equity.

After a call for proposals in 2009 on ocean energies, which included floating wind technologies, another call was launched in 2013 and four industrial demonstration projects were awarded by ADEME (see the IEA Wind TCP 2015 Annual Report).

Since the first calls in 2009, floating wind technology has been prioritized  as a strategic area. France has a favorable situation for floating wind, local harbor facilities, and a local naval and offshore oil and gas industry capable of addressing this market. A dedicated call for tender for floating wind farm pilot projects highlighted the focus on floating wind.

Though several national public organisms perform R&D on their own budget, the dedicated R&D budget for 2019 is 6 M€, with 9.4 M€ in addition for the support of demonstration projects.

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