Bringing together six regional clusters dedicated to marine renewable energies under a single flag? This is the purpose of France Offshore Renewables, founded by the French MRE clusters, including Bretagne Ocean Power, the dynamic driven by the Brittany Region, which BDI coordinates and promotes. The announcement of this interregional alliance took place during the WindEurope trade fair in Copenhagen, which took place from 25 to 27 April. Philippe Thieffry, head of the Bretagne Ocean Power mission at BDI, explains the contours of this union.
What is France Offshore Renewables?
France Offshore Renewables brings together the clusters of the six French regions with marine renewable energy projects: Brittany (Bretagne Ocean Power), Pays de la Loire (Neopolia), Normandy (Normandie Maritime), New Aquitaine (Aquitaine Blue Energies), Occitania (Wind’Occ) and the Southern Region (Sudeole). The alliance thus brings together more than 500 companies under the same banner. It has existed unofficially since September 2021. From now on, it has a name and is organised through a steering committee that meets regularly. The alliance facilitates relations with foreign clusters. Previously, we exchanged with them separately. Now it forms a single organisation. When we organise joint events with international clusters, we do it together.
France Offshore Renewables, an alliance to give weight to French clusters
What are the objectives of France Offshore Renewables?
With the other clusters, we consider that work must be done to make French skills in the field of offshore wind energy known, before making regional skills known. The objective is to have a common organisation. In concrete terms, Bretagne Ocean Power would not have exhibited on its own at an important exhibition like WindEurope. Showcasing Breton SMEs on an individual stand, in the middle of 500 exhibitors, is not as effective and understandable for international players as exhibiting collectively with a “French” entrance.
The fact of being together gives weight to the different marine energy clusters. We have therefore strengthened the alliance of French clusters. The next step will be to consolidate the work with European clusters.
Today, there are still not enough jobs in France in MRE and not enough French companies working on offshore wind projects. We therefore need to join forces to defend French skills. Very quickly, tomorrow, we will have to work together at European level because we see Asian competition coming. We will therefore need to work together.
What actions is the France Offshore Renewables alliance taking?
We have already carried out a certain number of actions together, in particular the publication of the Charter of Commitment for a local industrial sector 1. We are carrying out other actions, such as making proposals to the State to change the allocation process for offshore wind projects. We are also continuing our joint action with the principals and we are carrying out in-depth actions to resolve certain issues concerning legislation and the legal and financial obstacles that our companies may encounter. To this end, we are sharing our feedback from our respective offshore wind farms.
A single entry point for consulting French expertise
What will this collaboration bring to companies, particularly in Brittany?
France Offshore Renewables clarifies access to the French supply chain and represents a single entry point for consulting national skills. We have set up a website that allows you to go directly to the directories listing the companies in the member regions of the alliance. Breton companies can thus be identified more easily.
And from the point of view of the principals?
Such an alliance is very reassuring for them. It shows that the regional authorities are not in a competitive logic. In the end, the principals will exchange information region by region, but they will initially have a single contact person who will provide them with an overview of skills. Then, the principals can identify their potential partners.
How do Breton companies compare with French companies and international contractors?
Generally speaking, Brittany has always had the particularity that more than 90% of companies positioned in MRE are very small businesses, often poorly equipped or organised to export. A minority of Breton companies go international. On the other hand, the skills available in Brittany are recognised throughout the world, particularly in companies specialising in marine environment studies (modelling, seabed measurements, tools for underwater inspections, etc.). It is now a question of helping Breton companies to address international markets more easily. The services of BDI and Bretagne Commerce International, stakeholders in Bretagne Ocean Power, are working on this. Breton companies can contact us. And France Offshore Renewables will also help to accelerate this international opening.