Norwegian energy giant Equinor has further geared-up its acceleration into floating wind power through a deal with developer RES and financial consultancy Green Giraffe to build projects in the waters off France.

The new venture, Oceole, plans to submit bids in upcoming floating wind tenders being held by the French government, which aims to have 6.8 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2028 to support its 2050 net zero goal.

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Equinor’s senior vice president for renewables business development, Jens Okland, said: “France has set an ambition of becoming among the top markets for floating offshore wind in the next decade. Together with RES and Green Giraffe, we are ready to contribute long term to the country’ ambitious offshore wind plans and develop what could potentially be the first commercial floating offshore wind farm in France.

“As Oceole, we have the industrial competence, technical and financial skills to develop projects where we can create value and capture the benefits of scale for this exciting technology.”

Equinor has been a pioneer in floating wind, launching the world's maiden industrial scale unit, Hywind Demo, off Norway in 2008.

It is also developed the first array of floating units at the 30-megawatt Hywind Scotland pilot park, brought online in 2017, and is currently in the midst of building the 88MW Hywind Tampen project — an 11 platform project that will supply power to the Snorre-Gullfaks offshore oil complex, reducing CO2 emissions from the hydrocarbon production by a third, according to the company.

In May, French energy regulator CRE kicked off the preliminary process for the tender for a 230-270MW floating wind project, foreseen as being the world’s largest when it enters operation later this decade. This will be the first of three rounds for 250MW floating wind arrays, with two more slated to follow next year for acreage in the Mediterranean Sea.

France currently has four multi-unit pilots, each of about 25MW, under development: Provence Grand Large, Leucate, Gruissan and Groix.

(This article first appeared in Upstream's renewable energy sister publication Recharge on 20 July, 2021)