HydroQuest's 1MW tidal energy turbine for Paimpol-Bréhat site (Courtesy of Ocean Energy Europe)

France boosts tidal energy sector with €65M for FloWatt project

The government of France has committed to provide at least €65 million of funding and dedicated revenue support for the pioneering tidal energy farm FloWatt, in an effort to support the commercialization of tidal energy industry.

HydroQuest's 1MW tidal energy turbine for Paimpol-Bréhat site (Courtesy of Ocean Energy Europe)

Announced by the French minister for energy transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the move signals a huge step forward for the tidal energy sector in France, and lights the way for other EU member states to follow.

Flowatt will be the biggest tidal farm in the world, with the most turbines and largest capacity – a true flagship project.

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 program 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.

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Agnès Pannier-Runacher said: “Renewable marine energies are a pillar of our energy strategy. Offshore wind power is the main axis, but we must also develop other marine sectors, in the context of diversification and decarbonization of our energy mix, as two thirds of our energy is still of fossil origin.

“This is what we are doing today by supporting the FloWatt tidal turbine pilot farm, a key project to consolidate our tidal turbine industry. This support is also in line with the objective that we share with the President of the Republic: to reindustrialize the country and support emerging sectors, as we did with offshore wind power 15 years ago and as we are doing today with tidal energy.”

Other EU member states need to take heed, Ocean Energy Europe says

Ocean Energy Europe, an industry association for European ocean energy sector, has hailed the French government’s announcement, stating it demonstrates the country’s trust in tidal energy as both an industrial opportunity and a key part of the energy transition.

It is a timely response to increased activity and investment in ocean energy in the United States 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, according to Ocean Energy Europe.

Welcoming the news, Ocean Energy Europe’s CEO, Rémi Gruet, said: “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. Investors keep knocking on the door, but the lack of market visibility – provided by targets and finance – kept pushing them away.

“This commitment by the French government brings the number of countries supporting tidal energy revenues and installations to three, after the United Kingdom and China. 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.”

With an EU objective of 40GW 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, said Ocean Energy Europe.

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