Country Reports

Following a trend over several years, the French Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) sector activities in 2016 can be characterized by a large and complimentary set of public and private initiatives and achievements. The size of projects and their objectives vary considerably. As an example, tidal turbines are being tested in order to be combined in arrays as part of the global network energy mix, but also individually to provide energy to non-grid connected islands or isolated communities, as well as along rivers and in estuaries. Motivated by the potential of its oversea islands in the intertropical area, France is also heavily investing in OTEC.

While on the fringe of the OES perimeter of action, but contributing to its progress by tackling many of the MRE common issues, the floating offshore wind turbine sector is also moving forward quickly with strong public and industrial involvement, setting a consistent roadmap for development.

As a result of these shared interests, up to 3000 people meet and collaborate at national exhibitions and conferences dedicated to the global Marine Renewable Energy sector.


The Energy Act (Loi de Transition Energétique pour la Croissance Verte), adopted in August 2015, defines an aim of 40% renewable energy in the electricity mix by 2030. In application of this Energy Act, on October 27th 2016, the multi-annual Energy Programme (Programmation pluriannuelle de l’énergie) defined specific objectives in terms of installed capacity of the various energy sectors for electricity production. A complementary objective is set between 200 and 2000 MW as an additional capacity to be awarded for marine energy (again, ocean energy and floating offshore wind) based on the feedback and cost improvements from the pilot farms demonstrations. In line with these targets, two calls for tenders for commercial arrays have been announced to be open by the 1st semester of 2017, for tidal current and floating wind respectively.

In order to calculate the total installed capacity by 2023, the given figures must also include the operational tidal range barrage of 240 MW of the Rance river running since 1966, as well as one 10.6 MW OTEC plant scheduled to be operational before this date.

In parallel, France has accelerated its Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) by launching a consultation in 2016, and pursues identification of dedicated sites for ocean energy projects.

A simplification of the consenting process was initiated by the French Government in 2014 in order to accelerate the development of projects. Ocean energy project developers in France must fulfil the following permitting and licensing process:

  • A single permit regarding environmental issues, which includes an environmental impact assessment (EIA), if needed, one focusing on Natura 2000 impacts, and one dedicated to protected species, delivered by the Prefect. Within this permitting procedure, a public consultation is organized by the State;
  • If located in territorial waters, a license to occupy the maritime public domain, which takes into account maritime safety and the use of maritime territories and is delivered by the Prefect. This licensing requires a public consultation which can be combined with the preceding process.
  • For farms above 50 MW, an authorization to generate electricity delivered by the Ministry of Energy. This authorization is automatically delivered to the laureates of State calls for tender.

In addition, the developer signs a grid connection convention with the French Transmission System Operator (TSO). 

Until May 2016, the Feed-In Tariff for ocean energy systems was set at € 173/MWh. In addition to this scheme, grants and reimbursable loans are awarded to prototypes and pre-commercial pilot arrays. As an example, the 2 tidal pilot arrays of the Raz Blanchard/Alderney Race of respectively 14 and 5.4 MW of installed capacity are under development with a total public support of €103 million.

In order to attract industrial investments, the next phase in policy (e.g. for commercial arrays) relies on calls for tenders, in a competition where a major part of the selection criteria relies on the assessed price per MWh.

In France, the general framework for the national public funding in MRE comes through the Investment for the Future Programme. Two main agencies are then involved in managing these funds through calls for tenders, namely ADEME (Environment and Energy Agency) and ANR (National Research Agency).

In 2016, newly awarded funds by ADEME have thus been directed to 4 pilot arrays of floating wind turbines (around 24 MW each, 3 in the Mediterranean Sea and 1 in the Atlantic Ocean) and to river turbine arrays (some at estuaries where turbines function like a small capacity tidal array). Ongoing projects issued from calls for tenders of previous years also involve wave energy converters, tidal turbine prototypes and technological bricks, like subsea connectors or hubs, foundation concepts, specific dredging or installation tools, etc. In 2016, ANR awarded financing to 9 MRE R&D projects throughout the “Institute for the Energy Transition” call for tenders. These public-private collaborative projects tackle technological bottlenecks and environmental issues.

The Public Bank of Investments (BPI France) also buys shares in SME’s. For instance, in 2016 it was among the investors that increased by €8 million Sabella’s capital.

All along the French coastline, at the regional level, local authorities also support the endeavours of the MRE sector. In addition to grants allocated to R&D federative programmes, like the national institute France Energies Marines, or to local initiatives like WEAMEC and ONEM, they invest in harbour facilities in order to enable the development of offshore wind and tidal industries, thus providing enough space to build plants along new quays, e.g. in Cherbourg, Brest and St-Nazaire.

The two French competitive Sea clusters, Pôle Mer Bretagne-Atlantique and Pôle Mer Méditerranée, have MRE in their roadmaps. By a labelling process, they foster interest in collaborative projects that can apply to national funds (e.g. the common inter-ministerial fund, FUI), as long as the expected results of those projects can be quickly marketable.

France Energies Marines, in cooperation with the National Research Agency, launched 8 successfully financed collaborative MRE R&D projects in 2015 (€3 million state financing). 8 additional projects have been accepted for financing and will be launched in 2017. Below is a brief listing of the treated subjects in 2016:

BENTHOSCOPE2 - understanding and monitoring of MRE impacts on the benthic compartment via a measurement platform dedicated to passive acoustics;

EOLINK - proof of concept for an innovative floating wind generator;

HYD2M - Raz Blanchard hydrodynamics: measurements and modelling;

INDUSCOL - instrumentation and durability of glued multi-material structures for MRE systems;

PHYSIC - sediment transport processes in the presence of intense currents;

THYMOTE - tidal turbulence: modelling, field observations and tank experiments;

TROPHIK - ecosystem approach of MRE: modelling the role of offshore wind farms in modifying the functioning of coastal food webs and cumulative impacts;

OMDYN - dynamic cable for marine energy.

In July 2016, the European Interreg 2 Seas monitoring committee accepted the €5.6 million the financing of the MET-CERTIFIED project for the development of international standards and certification systems for marine renewable energies.

MET-CERTIFIED aims to promote the development of projects for the recovery of marine energies that can be covered by an insurance contract, and therefore be financed. This requires the development of internationally recognized standards and certification systems, as well as the testing and verification of technologies according to standards for marine energy converters.

The project is conducted within the framework of a European public-private partnership. Ifremer in France contributes to the project through its Behaviour of Offshore Structures laboratory, responsible for “experimental testing” in the project.

In continuation of the MARINET project, MARINET2 has been approved funding through the Horizon 2020. This new project is due to start in early 2017 and will run for 4.5 years. While activities proposed under MARINET2 will follow the same formula as in MARINET, balancing networking/joint research/ and transnational access, the consortium and scope of work are expanded to include 39 partners in 13 countries with 57 facilities. More information available on:

Ifremer and ECN (Ecole Centrale de Nantes) have joined efforts to set-up a GIS named THeoRem in order to create a National Research Infrastructure related to hydrodynamic testing facilities. The objectives of THeoRem are:

  • to coordinate activities of the two major French research centres operating hydrodynamic testing facilities for advanced research programmes in hydrodynamics at the European level;
  • to facilitate the development of collaborative projects;
  • to develop a common strategy in regards to the development, and associated investments, of the testing facilities; and
  • to animate the industrial and scientific communities using these facilities (MRE, Oil&Gas, Shipbuilding, etc.).

The Marinerg-I project, submitted in response to the INFRADEV-02-2016 “Preparatory Phase and support to early phase of ESFRI projects” was accepted for funding in September 2016 and will start early in 2017. This project, led by the MaREI Centre at University College Cork (UCC) in Ireland, aims at preparing a proposal for a European Research Infrastructure supporting the development of Marine Renewable Energy that could be submitted to the next ESFRI call around 2019. Ifremer, on behalf of THeoRem, is the French partner in the consortium.


As part of the experimental facilities of Ecole Centrale Nantes, SEM-REV has been developed through public financial support to validate & optimize both Wave Energy Converters and Floating Wind Turbines in real open sea conditions.

The SEM-REV package includes: land station, research centre and electrical substation, export cable (20 kV, 8 MVA, 24 optical fibres), and a 1 km² restricted marine area equipped with met-ocean instrumentation, an electrical subsea termination unit for 3 prototype connections and fully consented slots for testing.

Additional supporting facilities include: met- ocean data and analyses, design and installation verifications, maintenance in operational conditions, access to local marine stakeholders and environmental impact assessment. Projects currently deployed on the test site (2016 to 2018):

  • FP7 Floatgen project (Ideol, Bouygues, Un of Stuttgart, RSK, ECN, Zabala): 2-year test of a floating wind turbine based on a concrete floater, a synthetic rope mooring system and a first dynamic umbilical;
  • BPI France IHES project (Geps, Ifremer, ECN, Icam, SNEF): 2-year test of a new floating WEC concept including the new Pywec PTO (developed by Pytheas).

The Interreg FORESEA project (partnership: EMEC, Smart Bay, TTI and ECN/SEM-REV) was launched in 2016 with the goal to deploy 6 MRE technology components at SEM-REV between 2016 and 2019.

SEM-REV is also part of the H2020 MARINET2 project approved in 2016 and the ESFRI MARINERG-I project awaiting final decision early in 2017.



SEENEOH is an original estuarine tidal test site for full scale river and intermediate scale ocean tidal devices. In Bordeaux, during spring tides the Garonne River tidal range exceeds 5 m and current velocities can reach 3.5 m/s, while currents above 1 m/s occur approximately 80% of the time. Depth at the test area is greater than 8 m. These characteristics allow the testing of full and/or intermediate scale machines relevant for the extensive global tidal market in rivers, estuaries and oceans.

Each of the three available berths is connected to an onshore substation. The berths are designed to accommodate tidal devices with either mounted or floating fixation types. The grid connection has a total capacity of 250 kW. Two berths have been operational since December 2016, and the third will be in February 2017.

The services offered by the SEENEOH test site to users comprise several elements, including the provision of a technical room in the land-based converter station for the installation of the user’s energy conversion system, and monitoring of the prototype during the test campaign via a SCADA system.



D10 - Ouessant

  • Deployment in June 2015, isolated island grid connection in November 2015;
  • First and currently only marine tidal turbine to have provided electricity to the French electricity grid;
  • Removed from the water in July 2016 with validation of the turbine/base modularity designed to ease maintenance operations;
  • End of the ADEME-funded demonstration project in cooperation with the Bureau Veritas and IFREMER;
  • Qualification of SABELLA for the ICE project (Interreg trans-English Channel Brittany/Cornwall) for the use of the D10 tidal turbine for 2 to 3 years in the Fromveur current (Brittany).

Hydroquest designs, manufactures and installs innovative hydrokinetic water turbine farms for rivers, estuaries and oceans, based on an internationally patented unique crossflow technology. Hydroquest River 1.40 is the only grid connected fluvial hydrokinetic turbine in operation in France (2 years). For commercial-ready river applications, Hydroquest offers a range of two machines with nominal power ratings of 40 kW (Hydroquest River 1.40) and 80 kW (Hydroquest River 2.80). Projects are currently underway in France, Africa, Asia and South America.

Hydroquest River turbines can be adapted to any river profile with a minimum 2m depth. The turbines use a crossflow double vertical axis technology with an anti-debris grid system installed on the supporting structure, which deflects solid objects present in the water. The hydrokinetic turbine is fixed on a floating barge equipped with a hydraulic cylinder for positioning of the turbine in its submerged position (operation) or raised position (inspection, maintenance, transportation, production pause).

EDF develops a tidal demonstration project located off the north coast of Brittany. The project involves the installation of two industrial-scale OpenHydro turbines delivering up to 1 MW power to the national grid.

  • The project Phase 01 was dedicated to the test of Openhydro 16m diameter prototype “l’Arcouest” in stand-alone. This phase was achieved in 2014.
  • The project Phase 02 consists of two Openhydro turbines, a subsea conversion system developed by GEEPC, an export cable of around 16 km length exporting power from the converter to an onshore substation located in the “Anse de Launay” and a connection system inter-connecting the equipments. The construction of the demonstration farm was completed in 2016, with the deployment and connection of all the equipments and the achievement of numerous functional tests. The two turbines will be recovered in 2017 for detailed inspection and maintenance, with the objective of redeploying and exporting power to the grid the same year.
  • Paimpol-Bréhat will also host a Hydroquest prototype for a test at sea in stand-alone.

In 2016, Guinard Energies successfully deployed its Poseide on site power measurement device based on the Mega-WattBlue design in the waters off Guyana. The MegaWattBlue technology doubles the recoverable energy for a given rotor size thanks to a specific shroud and rotor coupling. In parallel, the electrical power regulation system was validated.


Normandie Hydro
Tidal turbine pilot farm coordinated by the ADEME and financed by the Investments for the Future programme: Following the conception stage (2015), the Normandie Hydro tidal turbine pilot farm project located in the Raz Blanchard tidal race is progressing through the construction and installation stage (2016-2018). Planned for a 20-year period of operation, the 14 MW farm of 7 OpenHydro tidal turbines is coordinated by DCNS in cooperation with the French electricity provider EDF.

Guinard Energies
In 2017, the 250 kW MegaWattBlue tidal demonstration turbine will be deployed in the Ria d’Etel (South Brittany). This 4 m diameter, free-slewing ducted turbine will be commissioned using the patented “Camel” self-floating/ballasting gravity base.

OceanQuest project
HYDROQUEST and CMN, together with the University of Caen Normandy, were awarded funding in February 2016 from the Offshore Renewable Energy call for projects supported by the ADEME and Future Investments programme.

The winning OceanQuest project will install a Hydroquest demonstrator turbine with a capacity of 1 MW on the Paimpol- Bréhat EDF test site in autumn 2017.


The first annual international conference on marine renewable energies took place in Biarritz in the spring of 2016. In all, 3000 participants, 220 exhibitors from 15 countries participated in two days of presentations, seminars, meetings and exhibitions. The second edition of Seanergy is scheduled for 22-23 March 2017, in Le Havre.

The 2016 edition of the annual INORE young researchers’ association symposium was held in Nantes on 12-18 June. 

MRE Masters programme
The engineering school ENSTA Bretagne continues to offer a specialized masters degree in marine renewable energies, designed to complement a degree in engineering or a masters in mechanical engineering.

FWP Sea Tech Week
The annual international marine science and technology week event took place in Brest on 10-14 October 2016. This year’s theme was centred on “Sea & Digital Technologies” with numerous conferences and round table events organized to discuss the issues.