Country Reports


In France, 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, the 10-year targets for installed capacity and consented projects for all types of energy used in electricity production will soon be updated in the governmental “Pluri-annual Energy Policy”. This roadmap, to be published in 2018, will set specific objectives on the horizon 2023 and 2028. With respect to ocean energies, figures will be provided solely for tidal energy (and not for wave energy, nor for OTEC).

A new law is being discussed to favour renewable energies by simplifying their deployment. Two situations are being debated:

  1. to have the cost of the export cable supported by the French Transmission System Operator, for all offshore developments;
  2. to streamline the legislative and legal framework by developing a so-called “permit envelope”. This procedure would move most of the legal obligations (preliminary technical studies, initial environmental assessment, public debate) upstream of the actual permit issuance, thereby considerably reducing the risk for project developers as long as the technical details of the project do not diverge from the initial plan.

In parallel to this simplified consenting process, France has accelerated its Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) by launching a consultation in 2016, and pursues identification of dedicated sites for ocean energy projects. The final Strategic Seaboard Document (DSF) should be completed by early 2019.


An ongoing programme has awarded 2 demonstration pilot farms of tidal energy converters for partial support: presently, only the Normandie Hydro project is proceeding, led by the EDF-En/Naval Energies consortium at Raz Blanchard. This project benefits from an older feed-in tariff (173€/MWh) and reimbursable loans.

The industrial tidal sector is now expecting initial surveys (resource assessment, technical feasibility, environmental impact, consenting) to take place beginning in the 2nd semester of 2018, ahead of a likely call for tenders at a commercial scale, foreseen for two high-energy zones having already been identified: Raz Blanchard and the Fromveur Strait in Brittany. In this competition, a major part of the selection criteria relies on the assessed price per MWh.

In France, the general framework for RDI&D national public funding in MRE comes through the Investment for the Future Programme. Two main agencies and a public bank are involved in managing these funds through calls for tenders, namely the ADEME (Environment and Energy agency), the ANR (National Research Agency) and the public Bank of Investments (BPI France).

Awarded funds by the ADEME have thus been directed 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 2017, the ANR awarded financing to 6 MRE R&D projects through the “Institute for the Energy Transition” call for tenders, in conjunction with France Energies Marines. These public-private collaborative projects tackle technological bottlenecks and environmental issues. In all, and over the period 2015-2017, the government awarded 10 M€ of R&D funding through this program.

One of the activities of BPI France is to buy shares in SMEs. To this end, in 2017, it was among the investors that increased by 3,7 M€ Eel Energy’s capital to support its tidal energy technology development.

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, 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. Through a labelling process, they foster interest in collaborative projects that can apply for national funding (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 21 successfully financed collaborative MRE R&D projects in the period 2015-2017. Below is a brief listing of the treated subjects in the projects started in 2017.

DiME - Dimensioning and met ocean: modelling and observations of extreme sea states for MRE
ABIOP- Accounting for biofouling through established protocols of quantification
MHM-EMR - In service health monitoring of MRE moorings to anticipate failures
POLYAMOOR - Durable and flexible polyamide moorings for MRE
SOLCYP+ - Monopile design for fixed offshore wind turbines, calculations for installation procedures
STHYF - Seafloor cable stability and hydrodynamics in strong tidal currents
GEOBIRD - Development of an innovative geolocation tag for seabirds
SPECIES - Submarine power cable interactions with environment

Ifremer, Ecole Centrale de Nantes (ECN) and Oceanides are involved in the MaRINET2 project (, offering possibilities for technology developers to test their devices in recognized research facilities, including real sea test conditions. Under MaRINET2, calls are open to give developers the chance to access testing facilities in Europe free of charge. In the first call this year, 48 proposals were received from 21 countries. Support of €1.3 million has been awarded to 34 projects for free of charge access to testing facilities. The second call for proposals will open on the 15th of January, 2018.

Ifremer and ECN have joined their efforts to set-up a grouping of scientific interest (GIS), named THeoRem, in order to create a National Research Infrastructure related to hydrodynamic testing facilities. The GIS was officially signed on 13 March 2017, between ECN and Ifremer bringing together a unique set of hydrodynamics facilities (3 test tanks and the SEM-REV open sea test site for ECN; 2 test tanks and the Saint Anne du Portzic test site for Ifremer). A dedicated website will be set-up early 2018 (   68120-fr-1.jpg

EEL GEN project
The project, led by Eel Energy in partnership with Hutchinson and Ifremer, aims at developing a 1 MW tidal energy convertor using an undulating membrane. After having successfully performed a range of scaled model tank tests (at 1/20 and 1/6 scales), numerical modelling and material proofing, a prototype has been tested in Brest Harbour. The towed tests have been performed using the Iroise Mer - TSM Vessel Penzer. Results of the tests will feed the on-going development of the full-scale prototype.


Set-up of the Eel Energy membrane for the tests in the Brest harbour – Copyright Ifremer

MET-CERTIFIED aims to increase the adoption of insurable and therefore bankable marine energy projects in the European Interreg 2 Seas area (Southern North Sea and the Channel) through the development of internationally recognised standards and certification schemes in the sector. The project will be of big interest to many stakeholders involved in certification, from banks and insurers to consenting authorities, end-users, test facilities and classification bureaus.

The first experimental campaign (10 days of trials) has been carried out in the Ifremer wave and current circulating tank on a generic three-bladed horizontal axis tidal turbine at a scale of 1:20, for different flow speeds and turbulence intensity levels. The experimental set-up and protocols take into account the actual best practices and guidelines, in absence of standard protocols.

The publicized behaviour and performance (EWTEC 2017, Cork: Testing of marine energy technologies against international standards. Where do we stand ?, G. Germain & al.) allow to highlight some important points and procedures to focus on if the results from tank tests are to be exploited with confidence.

9 organisations from France and UK have partnered to tackle the challenge of energy vulnerability in areas located at the end of the distribution network and reliant on fossil fuels: the ICE project (2017 – 2020), “Intelligent Community Energy”, is dedicated to improving, developing and promoting new, smart solutions for energy production, storage and consumption for an island or remote community. This project will be funded by the France (Channel) England Programme through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). In this framework, the D10 Sabella tidal turbine will carry on its demonstration installation at Ushant, an island at the western end of Britanny.


France has several test centres fully equipped and grid connected, where projects have been and are about to be tested: Floatgen, a nearly assembled offshore wind turbine had its mooring installed this summer at SEM-REV on the west coast, offshore Le Croisic, ahead of the actual shore connexion. In addition, 3 wave energy demonstrators are planned to be tested next year.

At SENNEOH, a tidal test site in the Gironde Estuary in the city of Bordeaux, the first tests of the ¼-scale HydroQuest marine turbine will be hosted. Future plans include testing their technology at full scale next year at Paimpol Bréhat, a tidal test site operated by EDF in North Brittany. BREST Saint-Anne is a new test site for scaled projects where GEPS Techno thoroughly tested its multi-energy platform (PH4S pilot project integrating wave, wind, tidal and solar energy conversion systems) and where EOLINK plans to test a 1/10-scale floating wind turbine in 2018.


GEPS Techno PH4S prototype at Saint-Anne test site – Copyright Ifremer



Regarding the deployment of the Sabella tidal turbine at Ushant, and in addition to the ICE allowing the D10 demonstration to be continued, the PHARES project aims at implementing on this unconnected island a fully renewable production of electricity based on 2 Sabella D12 turbines (12 m diameter for a 2 MW capacity), 1 MW of PV, 1.5 MW from 1 onshore wind turbine and 2 MWh of battery storage.

The Normandie Hydro project plans to install a capacity of 14 MW with 7 tidal turbines operational in 2021. At a short distance in Cherbourg, Naval Energies launched in July of 2017, the construction of a plant dedicated to the assembly of 25 turbines/year.

Guinard Energies has proceeded to several operational tests at sea in Brest (Brittany) in 2017, with a 3.5 kW hydrokinetic device P66 (66cm diameter of the funnelled turbine) combined with solar panels and batteries. The complete power conversion chain has been tested and validated. Those first conclusive tests will be followed by a demonstration project in February 2018 on the Ria d’Etel site in Brittany. The system includes a complete off-grid scheme with solar panels and batteries, in order to confirm the power conversion flexibility and efficiency in harsh conditions. This demonstration will be followed by several P66 installation on- and off-grid through Brittany, French and overseas during the year 2018. The pilot site of Ria d’Etel will also be used for P400 (4 m diameter) demonstration.


The second annual international convention on marine renewable energies took place in Le Havre on 22-23 March 2017. In total, 3500 participants and 230 exhibitors from 20 countries participated in two days of presentations, seminars, meetings and expositions. This was also the occasion for the professionals to meet at a plenary meeting, one month ahead of the presidential election, with representatives of all the main candidates to hear their views on MRE.

In 2018, this national event will merge with the international congress ICOE which will take place in Cherbourg, also in Normandy, on 12-14 April. First presented at Seanergy, an assessment of marine renewable energy related jobs (in French) has been published1 this year: a total of 2086 direct jobs have been identified in this study, in the field of marine energies, in France (75% in relation to offshore wind and 25% in ocean energy).

MRE Masters programme
The engineering school ENSTA Bretagne continues to offer a specialized master’s degree in marine renewable energies. Designed to complement a degree in engineering or a master’s in mechanical engineering, the MRE Master’s programme allows the acquisition of dual skills in engineering and MREs.




Since the adoption in August 2015 of the latest Energy Bill (Loi de Transition Energétique pour la Croissance Verte), an objective of 40% renewable energy in the electricity mix by 2030 has been established. The multi-annual Energy Program for the 2018-2023 period is under construction and will define specific objectives in terms of marine energy.

In parallel, France has accelerated its Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) by launching a National Sea and Shore Strategy in 2017.

In this context at the beginning of 2018, a wide consultation based on 2500 contributions and named Mer Littoral 2030 aimed at defining a national strategy dedicated to maritime and shore issues. This consultation treats in detail the spatial planning of Marine Renewable Energy (MRE). The completed work was overseen by the National Sea and Shore Council (Conseil National de la Mer et du Littoral), but also by each of the four Coastal Maritime Councils (Conseil Maritime de Façade) at the local scale. Strategic coastal documents stemming from this concertation and defining the national strategy for the sea are expected by April 2019.

Although France has already implemented spatial planning tools in the past such as the "Schémas de Mise en Valeur de la Mer" (SMVM, which could be translated as "sea enhancement plans"), they are mainly focused on small scale coastal areas. The current ongoing process thus illustrates the growing willingness of public and private actors in France to build a common strategy dedicated to the use, enhancement and protection of maritime areas and resources.

State authorities driving this MSP are involved at a regional level (Regional Prefect, Maritime Prefect) as well as at the national level through the relevant ministries (Environment, Energy, Oceans, Industry).

Since 2017, a simplified consenting process is effective.

Ocean energy project developers in France must fulfill the following permitting and licensing process by requesting:
• A single permit pertaining to environmental issues which includes an environmental impact assessment (EIA), and 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 (delivered by the Prefect). This licensing requires a public consultation which can be combined with the preceding process.
• For farms rated above 50MW, an authorization delivered by the Ministry of Energy to generate electricity. 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).

The permit regarding the environment and the license to occupy the maritime public domain require the ocean energy project developer to produce an EIA and, if applicable, a Natura 2000 impact assessment. EIAs are subject to approval by the environmental authority.

The content of the EIA should reflect:
• The environmental sensitivity of the zone likely to be affected by the project;
• The importance and nature of the proposed work and development;
• The foreseen effects on the environment and human health.

The content of the EIA is defined by the environmental code and includes:
• A description of the project, with its different components and phases of construction;
• A description of the initial state of the project zone likely to be affected;
• An analysis of project consequences for the environment and human health within the zone of influence;
• An analysis of cumulative effects of the project with those of other projects either already existing or in development;
• A presentation of measures foreseen to avoid or reduce any substantial negative effects and compensate, whenever possible, important residual negative effects that cannot be avoided or sufficiently reduced (ARO doctrine: Avoid – Reduce – Offset).

The French Government has initiated legislation and regulation simplifications for Ocean Energy Systems over several years in order to facilitate their development and consolidate their funding.

For instance, Decree No. 2016-9 of January 8, 2016, allows the obtaining of a license to occupy the maritime public domain for up to 40 years. This evolution takes into account the specific lifetime of infrastructure and subsea installations, and the relatively long development time of MRE projects.

Moreover, it creates a dedicated and stream-lined process for MRE project deployment requests. As a result, since February 1, 2016, a specific and unique Court (Cour Administrative d’Appel de Nantes) judges all claims regarding: Energy Code authorizations, environmental permits, licenses to occupy the public domain and decisions on successful tenders. It issues the permits for MRE developers, as well as those for the French TSO in charge of grid connections.

Passed in December 2017, the “hydrocarbon” law regulates export cables for MRE farms:
- They will be supplied and maintained by the French TSO for all offshore energies;
- A guaranty mechanism protects the energy producer in terms of damages and delays.

A law is currently under consideration for MRE developers, as well as for the French TSO in charge of grid connections, to allow a new procedure for an all-encompassing permit (“permis enveloppe”). With this permit, developers would not be required to determine all technological choices at the beginning of the project, but would rather define an envelope for some project characteristics. This amendment aims to increase the competitiveness of marine energy projects.

According to this law, and in cases of a call for tenders organized by the State, the documenting of the initial state of the environment will be provided by the State before the opening of the bid.

To grant a license or a permit authorizing an activity in the marine environment, the issuing authorities are required to take under consideration the recommendations, comments and advice provided by a wide range of stakeholders in accordance with the existing consultation processes.
In addition, before the launch of a call for tenders, the French State, which is in charge of identifying dedicated sites, conducts wide consultations involving local actors, inhabitants and other users of the zone (including fishermen, sailors, etc.).

During the licensing process for individual projects, non-compulsory public consultations are also organized by the developers.

Information regarding the licensing process is accessible online on French governmental or MRE professional organization websites. A consolidation of processes is ongoing and MRE project developers are responsible for following the evolution of procedures for project licensing.

There is no specific regulation for test centres in France. However, test centres such as SEM-REV (located in Pays de la Loire and dedicated to wave and floating offshore energy technologies), or SEENEOH (located in Bordeaux and dedicated to estuarine stream turbines), are required to hold several authorizations similar to those for MRE projects:
• An environmental permit which includes an EIA;
• A license to occupy the maritime public domain while respecting current water regulations;
• A power generation permit granted by the Ministry of Energy.

As the consents are held by the test site, developers who use the test sites do not have to undergo the full consenting process. Developers are still required to demonstrate that they respect the test site consent conditions as agreed upon by the Authorities and the test site.