France has a number of significant natural advantages that are helping the country to establish itself as a major player in the wind-power industry. It has the second largest wind resource in Europe, after the UK, and the French mainland has three coastlines. The country also boasts the world’s second largest maritime area (when overseas territories are taken into account). The country’s wind-energy sector is already worth over €2 billion.
France’s R&D initiatives and industrial expertise mean that it is in a position to develop an innovative and powerful wind-energy sector. Its wind-energy sector currently employs 11,000 people — a number which is set to grow to 60,000 by 2020.
As of the end of December 2011, France’s total onshore installed capacity stood at 6,600 MW. This should reach 19,000 MW by 2020, with offshore capacity, for its part, reaching 6,000 MW. In 2011, the French government issued an initial invitation to tender for 3,000 MW, to be distributed across 500 to 600 wind turbines that will be built off the coastline, in the Channel, in the North Sea, and in the Atlantic Ocean.
French companies involved in the wind-energy sector are taking advantage of this favourable situation and are using the domestic market to develop expertise that has been acquired in other sectors, such as metallurgy, aerospace and shipbuilding. Also thanks to an array of initiatives being implemented by various regional bodies, France’s wind-power sector has been expanding fast.
UBIFRANCE, the French export-support agency, will welcome 35 companies on the French pavilion at EWEA 2012, the leading European event of its kind, organised by the European Wind Energy Association. EWEA 2012 will take place at the Bella Center in Copenhagen (Denmark), from 16 to 19 April 2012.