Offshore wind power, fisheries support: Macron wants to ensure France's 'maritime sovereignty'

Macron: offshore wind power and fisheries support for France's
  • Jonathan Rowe
  • 14.12.2023

Large-scale development of offshore wind energy, support for fisheries, "decarbonization" of ports. Emmanuel Macron, at the "Assises de l'économie de la mer" conference in Nantes, linked the energy transition to France's "maritime sovereignty."

"The sea is at the heart of the sovereignty issue. It is sovereignty over energy, food, and infrastructure," he said, after already praising the sea as a place of "strength" at the opening of the renovated Naval Museum in Paris on Monday.

In two days, the head of state revised his vision of French "maritime sovereignty" in a country that, along with its overseas territories, is the world's second-largest maritime area after the United States.

At a meeting attended by fishermen, shipbuilders, shipowners, and members of local councils and associations, Emmanuel Macron called for offshore wind to be France's main renewable energy source by 2050

He announced that "in 2025, we have already launched 10 gigawatts, or about 10 wind farms that will be operational between 2030 and 2035."

Producing 10 GW is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 10 million households. France, which currently has only 8 GW of offshore wind farms installed or planned, aims to reach 45 GW by 2050.

The 10 GW tender will be announced after a public debate, open until April 26, aimed at identifying locations where about 50 wind farms will be installed. The objective is to establish precise location areas in the Atlantic Ocean, the English Channel and the North Sea as well as in the Mediterranean.

Faced with the incessant controversy surrounding wind energy, Emmanuel Macron bets on this nationwide debate: "We will put all the cards on the table, discuss it once in a frank way and avoid doing so after 5 or 10 years of projects."

He also referred to "almost 200 million euros" in investments to make France "one of the leaders in the production of floating wind turbines" and avoid importing wind turbines from China.

He assured that offshore wind energy would create "thousands of jobs" and generate 2.5 billion euros in tax revenues "between 2023 and 2035."

Of this amount, he announced, about 7 million would go to the fishing industry and modernize an aging and polluted fleet that had lost more than a quarter of its vessels in 20 years. Emmanuel Macron also wants to "modernize the fish auctions" because today "it is cheaper to catch fish in Scotland or Ireland and transport the catch to France."

Speaking of launching "a real deal to transform French fisheries" by next summer, 80% of the fish consumed is imported food and attracting young people to the industry

In the short term, French fishermen will benefit from an extension until June 30, 2024 of the European benefit of 20 cents per liter of fuel, related to the sharp rise in energy prices as a result of the war in Ukraine.

This measure expired on Dec. 31 and applies up to €335,000 per company. The president assured the fishermen that "these 20 centimes will be in addition to the aid received from many large companies such as Total, so fishermen will receive exceptional support that they have never received before." Diesel spends 40% of the fishermen's turnover.

France will also allocate about 800 million euros from the "France 2030" investment program for projects to "decarbonize" ports and port infrastructure.

Emmanuel Macron will also speak on ocean protection at the COP28 conference in Dubai on Friday and Saturday, ahead of a major UN conference on oceans scheduled for Nice in 2025. He promised that this event will be preceded by the "Year of the Sea", which will be full of initiatives across France, including a heritage day and a biodiversity lottery).

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