At the end of February, a key moment in the development of the Saint Nazaire offshore wind farm project was reached, with the arrival of the first turbine foundations at the port of La Rochelle in western France.
Over the course of two long days I observed and photographed the process of unloading and storing on the specially designed site, the four monopiles and transition pieces, which make up the turbine foundations and which will be largely under water when finally installed at sea. The lifting and manoeuvering of these elements, weighing between four and eight hundred tonnes, requires extreme care and technical precision. This was carried out by specialist teams on site in collaboration with the local dockers.
Over and above the pleasure and comfort of working in lovely weather, the slow and deliberate movement of these giant metal structures set against the deep blue sky, provided an amazing visual spectacle, of almost poetic, choreographed proportions.
On the basis of my discussions at the end of these two days with the on-site engineers of DEME , key partners in the project, I could sense their real sense of pride that this essential phase of the operation had been completed so successfully.
These foundation pieces, currently stocked in the Charente Maritime region, will soon be taken a hundred miles or so upshore to be installed off the coast of Saint Nazaire, and thereby launch the construction of the wind farm that will total 80 turbines by the end of 2022.