Wales in France for floating offshore wind trade visit

An industry trade delegation to France has been learning about the scale and potential of floating wind in the Celtic Sea to revitalise port infrastructure and create supply chain opportunities. 

Led by the Welsh Government with the support of Floventis Energy, 19 delegates from supply chain companies, ports and industry membership bodies took part in the fact finding and trade mission to Fos-sur-Mer, SBM Offshore’s fabrication facility near Marseille that is currently assembling the floating wind platforms for Provence Grand Large, the first of France’s pilot floating windfarms.

The Provence Grand Large project is shortly to be deployed approximately 30 kilometres from the platform assembly site in Fos-sur-Mer. The floating platforms have been designed and built by SBM Offshore, a partner in the joint venture Floventis Energy that was awarded the agreement for lease for the 200MW Llŷr developments by the Crown Estate in July 2021 subject to a Habitats Regulation Assessment.

The Celtic Sea is expected to play a key role with  4GW of floating wind due to be deployed by 2035. It is estimated by the ORE Catapult that the first GW of floating wind in the Celtic Sea could potentially deliver over 3,000 jobs and £682m in supply chain opportunities for Wales and Cornwall by 2030 with 17,000 UK jobs generating £33.6 billion for the UK economy by 2050.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “Floating wind is critical to meeting our ambitious net-zero emission targets. With enormous potential to be a core technology for reaching our climate goals, it will provide energy security and could help balance the UK’s energy system.

“Independent studies have suggested there could be as much as 50GW of electricity capacity available in the Celtic Sea waters of the UK and Ireland. Floating wind will also provide new low carbon supply chain opportunities, support coastal communities and create long-term benefits for the region. That’s why it is so important that we work with developers and support Welsh businesses to help them to understand the scale of the opportunity and build connections so that they can grow in Wales.”

Richard Selby, Director and Co-Founder of Pontypool-based Prosteel Engineering took part in the trade mission to Fos-sur-Mer. He said ”This was a great opportunity to find out more about how we can prepare our business to be in the best possibly place to tender for the engineering and fabrication work associated with the proposed developments in the Celtic Sea.

“As a company, we are renowned for safely delivering high-profile work, including collaborative projects like the London Olympic Stadium Transformation and ICC Wales’ 22 tonne steel Welsh dragon. It has been really valuable to hear how are skills and experience can be transferred to the floating offshore wind sector; potentially creating jobs and long-term sustainable business opportunities for Welsh businesses like us.”

Located 31km off the coast of Pembrokeshire, the Llŷr Developments (known as Llŷr 1 and Llŷr 2) that are being developed by Floventis will power in the region of 200,000 homes[1] with 200MW of clean, green energy once operational by 2027.  Each of the Llŷr projects will consist of six to eight turbines, all of which will be greater than 12MW.

Cian Conroy, Head of Project Development UK and Ireland for SBM Offshore said: “The experience of Floventis’ partners in delivering one of the World’s first floating wind parks is now being leveraged in delivering the critical stepping stone project in advance of the Celtic Sea leasing round.

“The Provence Grand Large project is part of France’s Test and Demonstration programme of projects being deployed in advance of the first commercial floating round in France. The visit gave our potential supply chain partners in Wales the opportunity to understand what will be required for the development of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea and how they can start to prepare for the opportunity ahead.

“Having completed the benthic and geophysical surveys, we are now preparing to submit a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Llŷr 1 and 2 and begin consultation. Running parallel is the work that we are doing to identify and engage with potential supply chain partners across Wales as part of our core commitment to creating local jobs and economic value.”

Headquartered in Amsterdam, SBM is a leading global offshore energy business with a 60-year track record in offshore innovation, a workforce of 5,000 and revenue in excess of US$2.3 billion. With offices in Scotland and California, Cierco is an independent renewable energy project development company established in 2001. Projects range from first demonstrator deployments to larger pre-commercial and commercial arrays.

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[1]Based on R-UK statistics using BEIS data