The French government is to furnish the tidal energy pilot farm FloWatt with €65 million of funding, setting a benchmark for others in Europe to follow.
The funding, announced by the Minister for the Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, signals a huge step forward for the tidal energy sector in France and lights the way for other EU Member States to follow.
“This is of huge significance: we have been waiting for revenue support for new pilot farms since the first were put in the water in 2016,” said Rémi Gruet, CEO, Ocean Energy Europe.
”Investors keep knocking on the door, but the lack of market visibility – provided by targets and finance – kept pushing them away.”
When completed, Flowatt will be the biggest tidal farm in the world, with the most turbines and largest capacity - a true flagship project.
This announcement demonstrates France’s trust in tidal energy as both an industrial opportunity and a key part of the energy transition.
Mr Gruet said that it is a timely response to increased activity and investment in ocean energy in the US and China and part of a broader push that needs to happen at EU level to secure Europe’s electricity supply with more indigenous production.
With an EU objective of 40 GW of ocean energy by 2050, a new target for innovative renewables in the 2023 EU Renewable Energy Directive and the inclusion of ocean energy as a strategic Net Zero technology, the past few years have seen an increase in political momentum.
“This must now be translated into concrete action by Member States, who have the power to roll out ocean energy on a large scale and reap the rewards, both at home and abroad,” he said.
Due to start operating in 2026, France’s first tidal pilot farm will meet the electricity needs of 20,000 people for 20 years.
FloWatt is a strategic collaboration between project developer Qair, technology developer HydroQuest and industrial partner Constructions Mécaniques de Normandie (CMN). Building on a successful two-year test programme in Paimphol-Bréhat, the seven 2.5MW turbines will be installed in one of the most powerful tidal sites in the world, Normandy’s Raz Blanchard.
This commitment by the French government brings the number of countries supporting tidal energy revenues and installations to three, after the UK and China.
But Mr Gruet warned that other EU Member States need to take heed if Europe is to secure its supply of indigenous, low-cost electricity and avoid further energy crises.