THE Island is moving forward with plans to build a major offshore wind farm after politicians visited St Brieuc last week to find out more about the 62-turbine farm being constructed on Jersey’s doorstep.
Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf, Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel and Assistant Environment Minister Hilary Jeune visited the Breton town, where they met representatives of the consortium building France’s largest offshore wind farm.
Although only half of the turbines have been installed, the £2.1 billion facility began supplying electricity to the French grid in July.
Deputy Renouf has previously said that Jersey is ‘very committed’ to a wind-farm project in support of its aim to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
A large area to the west of the Island is earmarked for a wind farm in the current Island Plan. If built, it would be likely to adjoin the French farm, whose construction can be seen from the south-west corner of the Island.
The Jersey politicians were joined by a delegation from Guernsey, led by Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, who is president of the island’s Committee for the Environment and Infrastructure.
Guernsey is also exploring the opportunity to build a wind farm. After St Brieuc, the delegation moved to Cherbourg, whose port authority has invested in new infrastructure, including reclaiming land for a turbine assembly plant. The Norman city is also home to the world’s first turbine factory able to manufacture blades longer than 100m.
Commenting on the trip, Deputy Renouf said: ‘It was a very useful, fact-finding exercise alongside our Guernsey colleagues.
‘We learned about the process that the St Brieuc project went through to get its permissions, including their environmental assessment and interaction with fishers. Both were very significant issues.
‘Were we to go ahead, any operation would likely be similar to St Brieuc, in the sense that the same fish, birds and sea mammals inhabit our waters. So, we discussed opportunities to build on the baseline data that has already been compiled.’
Asked if Jersey and Guernsey could build a wind farm together, Deputy Renouf said it was too early to say as both islands were still exploring options, although there was clearly potential for overlap.
The Saint Brieuc wind farm, which is expected to be fully operational by the end of this year, will be able to meet around 10% of Brittany’s total electricity consumption.
The potential for a wind farm within Jersey’s territorial waters was first mooted in 2015, when the Crown relinquished its ownership of the foreshore and seabed to the island.
An Offshore Wind Pre-Feasibility Study later found that Jersey had ‘significant offshore wind potential’ and that extracting energy from 5% of the Island’s waters would meet over three times Jersey’s current annual demand.
The government has hinted that a Jersey wind farm could be twice the size of the Saint Brieuc one, in order to create an export market for electricity.
In June, Deputy Morel told a business lunch that one gigawatt of wind-generated electricity would generate around £340m of value to the Jersey economy, at today’s prices.
It is the government’s aspiration that any wind farm would be funded by private investment.