French TSO RTE and the Chantiers de l’Atlantique – Hitachi Energy consortium have reached an agreement for the construction of the first offshore direct current platforms and onshore converter stations for the Normandy (Centre Manche 1 & 2) and Oléron Island offshore wind farms.

This contract, of an unprecedented scale for RTE, marks an acceleration in the development of offshore farms and positions France among the few European nations building large offshore high voltage direct current converter stations.

These platforms will be larger and have a higher power capacity (1250 MW) than the alternating current equipment of the first French offshore wind farms, underscoring the scale-up needed in the production of offshore renewable electricity.

The new generation of offshore wind farms is more powerful and located further away from the coast, taking advantage of the stronger and more favourable wind currents available. In order to connect these offshore farms to the mainland grid, it is necessary to use a technology capable of transporting electricity over very long distances. In Normandy and Oléron, the high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission systems by Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Hitachi Energy will enable the integration of more than 3.5 GW of renewable energy into the RTE network.

RTE, the project owner, selected the Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Hitachi Energy consortium after an international call for bids.

Chantiers de l’Atlantique’s experience includes more than a dozen offshore platforms built for wind farms in France and throughout Europe, while Hitachi Energy’s expertise in HVDC technology is recognized globally and has been selected for the IFA2 and Bay of Biscay interconnections, Great Britain – France and Spain – France respectively.

Construction of the three offshore platforms will be carried out in Saint-Nazaire, where Chantiers de l’Atlantique will double its production capacity, investing nearly €100 million in this expansion. Especially, it will acquire Europe’s largest paint cell, with a total area of 4600 sq m, and capitalise on its state-of-the-art industrial facilities, including its slipway equipped with gantry cranes lifting up to 1400 tons.