The first French Offshore Research Platform dedicated to Offshore Wind Energy, coupled with an Innovative €8.2 million R&D Programme.
The need for long-term field research at the scale of the seafront
The French Channel coast, which already has highly developed human activities, is particularly concerned by the deployment of offshore wind farms. However, qualifying the effects of commercial wind farms on a local scale, and the cumulative impacts of the various uses of the sea on the environment on a coastline scale, remains a major research challenge. This requires the long-term acquisition of field data, which is made possible using a measuring mast located off Fécamp and belonging to France Energies Marines. The mast is a genuine research platform at sea where state-of-the-art instrumentation is deployed, and innovative monitoring protocols are developed. This is a first in France to support the sector’s industrialists and the State with field studies, while encouraging their collaboration with the various research players.
A multidisciplinary R&D programme with an initial budget of €8.2M
This offshore research platform is coupled with a large-scale multidisciplinary R&D programme with an initial budget of €8.2m. The programme, called DRACCAR, aims to improve understanding of the interactions between offshore wind energy and the environment, to optimise the design of wind turbines and to co-construct a permanent observation network of the maritime seafronts. Six topics are studied:
- The marine ecosystem as a whole, to study the cumulative impacts of anthropogenic activities at the local and seafront scales by developing robust numerical modelling approaches with a refined spatio-temporal resolution.
- The marine megafauna – mainly mammals, fish, and birds – to characterise the use of the area and assess the associated effects.
- The fishery resources, biofouling, and benthos species to characterise and better understand the reef effect generated by the installation of structures with foundations at sea.
- The wind and its physical parameters to develop new methods for measuring and modelling wind turbulence.
- The structure behaviour to gain a detailed understanding of the interactions between currents, sea states and the mast, like the phenomena present in a wind farm.
- The hydrosedimentary processes to qualify the way in which the measuring mast can influence the dynamics of the surrounding seabed, and vice versa.
A complementary scientific partnership supported by the Normandy region
Strongly supported by the Normandy region through funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), DRACCAR brings together four partners who are major R&D players strongly involved in the development of offshore wind energy: France Energies Marines, the University of Caen Normandy, the University of Le Havre Normandy and the INSA Rouen Normandy.
France Energies Marines, the French institute for energy transition dedicated to offshore wind and ocean energy, will ensure the overall coordination of the project, the steering of the work carried out on marine megafauna and wind, the co-steering of the ecosystem approaches, and will contribute scientifically to all the topics addressed.
Within the University of Caen Normandy:
- The Continental and Coastal Morphodynamics Unit (M2C – UMR 6143) will lead work on fishery resources, biofouling, and benthos, as well as on hydrosedimentary processes. It will contribute scientifically to studies on ecosystem approaches and structure behaviour.
- The Laboratory of Biology of Aquatic Organisms and Ecosystems (BOREA – UMR 8067) will co-steer the studies on ecosystem approaches. It will contribute scientifically to the work on fishery resources, biofouling and the benthos.
- The University Laboratory of Applied Sciences of Cherbourg (LUSAC – EA 4253) will contribute scientifically to the topics related to ecosystems, fishery resources, biofouling and benthos, structure behaviour and hydrosedimentary processes.
The University of Le Havre Normandy, through the Waves and Complex Environments Laboratory (LOMC – UMR 6294), will lead the studies that will be conducted on the behaviour of the structure. A scientific contribution will also be made concerning the hydrosedimentary processes.
Within INSA Rouen Normandy, the Normandy Mechanics Laboratory (LMN – EA 3828) will contribute scientifically to the structure behaviour topic.
Photo credit : France Energies Marines