Nazaire, Emmanuel Macron revives by renewable

The Head of State accused French delay by decreeing a massive acceleration of wind and solar projects. Residents, farmers, local elected officials … He is looking for allies not to waste time.


The blades of the size of an Airbus are turning after 80 white mats, off Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique), 15 km from the coast. The shuttle that embarks Emmanuel Macron and his delegation, Thursday, September 22, seems small in the middle of this steel forest at sea, the first French offshore wind farm. It took fourteen years and four presidential mandates for a head of state to finally be able to inaugurate it. “A happy day!” Celebrated Emmanuel Macron. Before admitting, Mezzo Voce, that “on the scale of a mandate, it is something terribly frustrating” to launch a project without seeing the fruits. In January 2011, Nicolas Sarkozy came here to announce the conquest of the offshore wind turbine, settling at the 2008 environmental Grenelle, and the construction of Mistral ships promised to Russia.

Emmanuel Macron was not wrong. This is what the head of state seemed to say by taking over the thread of his speech by Belfort, which camped in February an energy strategy on three pillars – sobriety, renewable, nuclear. A policy which he considers “validated by the war in Ukraine” and his corollary cynic, the blackmail of Vladimir Putin with Russian gas. “The key to energy is diversification,” he repeats since his nuclear turn. Satisfied with a choice of sovereignty, however far from materialized, he now wants to “go twice as fast” in the deployment of renewable energies.

But the “glorious day” badly masks the wall which still stands in front of it. To hope to cover electricity needs which will leap “massively” by 40 %, Emmanuel Macron maintains the course: hold around fifty wind farms by sea by 2050. A power of 40 gigawatts within the range of construction sites. But France has taken a phenomenal delay. The Head of State could only note, three times, that “our neighbors go much faster”. Besides the 81 wind turbines in the French sea, Belgium has 400, Denmark 630, Germany 1,500 and the United Kingdom 2,500… The tricolor ambition for 2050 will join the current British level.

Slowers and recalcitrants

Meanwhile, technology is moving on a gallop. The park ordered ten years ago (6 megawatts) is no longer at the forefront of innovation (14 megawatts). “In 2011, we were on the front of the wave. Now, we are back, even if it remains a Ferrari,” admits Olivier de la Laurencie, director of the Saint-Nazaire wind farm. Impossible to start everything again. “It’s not like a bulb to change,” quips Franck Louvrier, mayor of La Baule. Why does an offshore site light up in five or six years in neighboring countries, against ten years in France? The fault of the slowness and the recalcitrants, returned the head of state. And in particular “dilatory appeals”. A problem in a competitive world, where Americans and British are already equipping their wind turbines in Cherbourg and Saint-Nazaire.

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/Media reports.