Port of Brest begins development on renewables quay

Port of Brest (Credit: Julien Carnot)

The French port of Brest is undertaking a new land-reclamation project to support the local windfarm industry, consisting of a quadrant-shaped 400 m heavy-load bearing wharf.

Cultivated as part of a French offshore wind cluster in recent years, the Port of Brest is now investing EUR200 million (USD230 million) in development of the new facility. The area will be operated by Ailes Marines, constructing jacket foundations for regional windfarm projects. Ailes Marines developed the 496 MW Saint-Brieuc offshore wind farm in the Bay of Biscay region. It is hoped that the cluster will attract further investment from major players from throughout the offshore renewables segment.

The construction operation comprises a 900 m-long curved quay wall for protection of the work area, which will form the outside edge of the quadrant wharf, and subsequent filling of the area between this quay wall using 1.25 m3 of dredged material from elsewhere in the port. Undertaken in two phases, the operation is slated between October 2019 and April 2020, followed by the second phase between late 2020 and early 2021. Following the relevant drying and soil strengthening works, the new facility will be open in 2024.

As well as offshore wind energy, the Brest region is becoming a hotbed of new tidal projects. Throughout April last year, local outfit Eel Energy tested a new prototype undulating tidal membrane device, a kind of underwater sail which derives energy from the motion of the currents. The 1:6 concept membrane was able to generate an average of 4kW during its brief tenure, with an ultimate goal of creating a 1 MW turbine. The port is positioning itself to serve such tidal energy concerns if they do attract the relevant investment, and has specifically delineated areas of the new 400 m wharf to be used for the purpose of supporting them.

Prior to this, the Port of Brest was involved with a joint EDF/GE tidal project which comprised anchoring turbines to the sea floor. Designed by OpenHydro, the large underwater turbines were assembled in drydock at Brest before being deployed to the Paimpol-Brehat area off the coast of Brittany. However, the project fell through when the turbines developed technical faults.

On top of the money supplied by the Brittany region in general, a large proportion of the funding for the Port project has been provided by the European Investment Bank, which pledged its support for the project in Q3 2018. The funds will come out of a EUR1.2 billion (USD1.4 billion) pot allocated to financing renewable energy projects across the continent, particularly in France and Spain.