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Comment: PNA ports getting ready for offshore wind


Ports of Normandy Authority (PNA) is getting ready to support the European offshore wind power industry.

PNA, the port authority of Cherbourg and Caen-Ouistreham, has just finalised its comprehensive proposal to assist in the development of offshore wind energy in the Channel.

PNA has published information concerning the capacity and characteristics of the ports it owns, with a view to supporting a European-level wind-energy sector that would make use of its port facilities for support and assembly.

"We have run a long-distance race for several months. A large amount of consultation, technical definition and proposal has been rigorously carried out. We have reached the end of the process. We are now ready, in line with the manufacturers' schedule," indicates Laurent Beauvais, President of PNA.

Jean-Michel Sevin, CEO of PNA, says: "In the marine-energy and offshore wind farm market, the port of Caen-Ouistreham and, more particularly, that of Cherbourg, is very well positioned, in relation to the performance and characteristics of our ports, and in terms of deadlines. We are in a position to respond immediately to expressions of interest."

Supporting wind industry

As the bid presented by PNA makes clear, PNA ports will be able to offer industrial, technical and logistical support to the planned development of major wind farms in the Channel, both on the English and the French side, more particularly — but not only — in relation to the assembly of wind turbines.

The ports of Cherbourg and Caen-Ouistreham, in the region of Basse-Normandy (in North-Western France), enjoy an exceptional geographical location. The two ports are situated at the heart of Western Europe's market for renewable marine energy, thanks to the powerful, regular winds that characterise the region, as well as some of Europe's strongest sea currents.

French push for offshore`?

PNA's initiative follows on the French Government's call, on 11 July 2011, for tenders to be handed in for the development of offshore wind farms on an unprecedented scale in French waters. Four out of the five proposed fields where offshore wind turbines are due to be built, on the French side, are located in the Channel.

Similarly, British sites have been identified for wind-energy development in the Channel, and they include the offshore block known as Rampion, near Brighton (on the Southern coast of England), and Navitus Bay Wind Park, near the Isle of Wight (off the South coast of England).

In total, close to 4 GW of wind-generated energy is to be installed in the next few years, and the ports of Cherbourg and Caen-Ouistreham are ideally situated to provide support to the projects being planned on both the French and the English sides of the Channel.

At a time when marine-turbine technology is growing rapidly, the Blanchard Strait, which is just off the coast of Normandy, offers world-class opportunity, with at least 1 GW of energy accessible a few nautical miles from the port of Cherbourg.

The configuration of the port of Cherbourg allows for the reception of all the marine-based renewable-energy sector's activities, be they related to manufacturing (such as the construction of booms, blades, masts or foundations) or logistics (more particularly in connection with the turbine-assembly process, before the units are transferred to site).

Manufacturing space

The port of Cherbourg's proposal appears particularly suited to the needs of manufacturers. For a start, the port is characterised by significant, existing capacity from a real-estate standpoint. This includes a continuous plot of land of 36 hectares in the port area, which is currently free from all activity and is particularly suitable for heavy loads, thanks to the shallow bedrock.

Additionally, a further 64 hectares — 32 of which are adjacent to the currently available plot — could be, depending on requirements, taken from the main harbour. Finally, as a conventional business park, 13 hectares in the immediate proximity of the port will be made available from 2015.

The offloading platforms at the port of Cherbourg are served, on the shore side, by the 380 m long Quai des Flamands. This wharf will be extended to 600 m from 2014, and, on the land side, will be connected directly to a dual carriageway as well as the rail network.

The nautical position of the port of Cherbourg represents another strong advantage, as the quays are accessible 24 hours a day without draught constraints — the draught is 13.5 m deep. This allows for the accommodation, without waiting time, of provision and service ships.

Many aspects of PNA's proposal make for a well thought-out case, which is in line with the expectations of the manufacturers, while being flexible in terms of users' technical needs. These aspects include the ports' experience in producing oil-rig legs, which is a process similar to that involved in the construction of offshore wind turbines.

PNA can also offer an environment free of the constraints usually generated by the processes and regulations relating to risk-prevention planning and to environmentally sensitive zoning (which are applied in the preliminary environmental assessment of land use), since all these areas have been covered already.

The port of Caen-Ouistreham is complementary to that of Cherbourg, and can position itself in relation to the housing of personnel working on the construction of the offshore wind farms and on their maintenance.

About PNA:

The ports of Caen-Ouistreham and Cherbourg are owned and run by Ports Normands Associés, known in English as the Ports of Normandy Authority (PNA). PNA's head office is in Caen.

The historic region of Normandy is currently made up of two separate regions: Lower Normandy (Basse-Normandie, in French) and Upper Normandy (Haute-Normandie). The ports of Caen-Ouistreham and Cherbourg are located on the north-west coast of France and face southern England, on the other side of the English Channel. They belong to the western, maritime part of Basse-Normandie.

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