Could the floating wind project off the Gulf of Lion ultimately not see the light of day ?

Could the floating wind project off the Gulf of Lion ultimately not see the light of day ?

Alors que les travaux battent leur plein sur le port de La Nouvelle, des interrogations demeurent. Independant – CHRISTOPHE BARREAU

And if the biggest fairground site in France, on   the heavy quay of the port of La Nouvelle, in Aude, did not arrive  at its end ? 600 jobs would be threatened.  Unless Bercy finally reacts. For the record, these giant wind turbines will be built around twenty kilometers off the Agathois coast.

Pilot projects for floating wind turbines in the Mediterranean could soon have lead in the blades. The managers of Qair, who are leading the Eolmed project of floating offshore wind turbines, express very serious concerns about the outcome of the project which suffered from the health crisis, the war in Ukraine which increased the price of the ton of steel from 700 to 2,280 € for example, inflation, cabinet reshuffles…"We wonder why for us (the three operators of pilot projects in the Mediterranean, Editor's note), all this did not exist" , asks Laurent Vergnet, offshore director for France, directly targeting the Ministry of Finance.

Projects are a year late

The fact is that the projects are a year late. For Eolmed, each month that passes costs €1.50 million. And the commissioning of the wind turbines, as things currently stand, is only possible at the end of 2025. If the project continues, of course. All energy sectors have benefited from a boost from the State and especially from indexation. Except them. Jean-Marc Bouchet, founder of Qair which has been supporting the Eolmed project for twenty years and specifically since 2016, when Ademe awarded the project, says "not understanding the position of the State which turns a deaf ear". "We are taken around, from meetings to meetings, from ministries to ministries and nothing moves . No one is bothered to take a measure which, in addition, would cost the taxpayer nothing", he complains. As for the letters, particularly from the renewable energies union, they remain a dead letter.

Countdown started

At the origin of the project, it was estimated at 212 million euros. Except that upon signing in 2022, the bill had climbed to 317 million euros. As for the banks, when the threshold of 323 M€ will be reached, they will turn off the tap. Qair has managed to finance from the start, without recourse. And above all did not deviate from the initial desire to create "the foundations of a French sector".< /p>

Everything has been done to ensure this is the case, with extensive recourse to regional companies. In addition, Jean-Marc Bouchet, Laurent Vergnet and the director of Eolmed, Olivier Guiraud, recall that for the port of Port-la-Nouvelle to become a unique "green port"  in Europe, it is more than 1.2 billion euros; which have been invested in ten years, by the Region and companies. "It’an entire strategy is shaken", they regret. When the agreements were made with Bercy at the origin of the project, the financing was to be 240 € the MW/h of electricity which was to be resold at 40 € the MW. Except that at the current price, the resale price is 80 to 90 € the unit. So, this constitutes a shortfall of 40 to 50 € per MW/h for the operator. Which simply requires returning to the terms of the initial agreement. Without this, suppliers will no longer supply and an entire ecosystem will be impacted and 600 jobs threatened.

Calls for tenders abroad

Jean-Marc Bouchet also recalls that Qair "responded to calls for tenders for parks in Spain and Portugal, in particular ;based on the new structures". "We're good at missing opportunities… ", he regrets. Olivier Guiraud believes that it is difficult to plan ahead for more than three months, and that as early as June, suppliers could give up. In addition, the three turbines and wind turbines will be delivered on August 1. "There is an urgent need to save this important project, deliberately 100% French", insists Laurent Vergnet. On May 13, a meeting is planned with the Minister for Industry and Energy, Roland Lescure. It will be crucial, decisive, unless the boss of Bercy, Bruno Le Maire, makes no effort.

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