Rising energy prices are finally making wind turbines profitable

At a time when the two finalists in the presidential election want to do without onshore wind power, the industry fears for its future. And with good reason, although Emmanuel Macron has lowered his ambitions on the subject and the ” landscaping In addition to a moratorium, Marine Le Pen simply advocates dismantling, which would directly endanger the existing facilities.

In light of these proposals, and with 13.7 GW of projects currently under review, industry professionals want to be heard. And this time, brandish the economic argument that has often been used against them before. Because the budgetary equation has been inverted, they say: Long subsidized, these giant blades dotting French territory, especially in the north and east of the country, could actually relieve public finances in these times of energy price spikes, assures the France Energie association Eolienne (FAIRY). And thus allow the state to ” merits » get to « protect purchasing power “Citizens.

A net revenue for the state as of 2025

In 2021, the wind power industry actually handed over all the 1.8 billion euros in subsidies it received to the state, and with it “ no longer a burden on public finances ‘ the club welcomes. Above all, the sector should even generate, if its forecasts are to be believed extraordinary recipes In 2022 there will be a surplus of 3.7 billion euros. He will get this amount back. in the amount of the budget of the Ministry of Culture ” to the state by the end of the year, underlines FEE, which asks to leave ” poses some politicians who blame wind power expensive and unnecessary “.

“By the end of the year, the wind energy sector will have donated 34% of what it has received since support began in 2003,” specifies its President, Anne-Catherine de Tourtier.

Above all, the calculation should ultimately benefit the budget of France, which has hitherto put the sector on drips to support its development. Because the equivalent of all the public support she’s received since 2003″ will have been donated by the last quarter of 2024 ‘, or nearly €11 billion if prices remain in line with Energy Regulation Commission (CRE) forecasts.

By 2035, wind power will bring France an estimated €18 billion in net sales if the country achieves the ambitious goals it has set in this area, FEE assures. Anne-Catherine de Tourtier hopes this will make the candidates reconsider their positions and encourage them to massively expand this renewable energy source.

Wind power benefits from rising prices

But this new profitability doesn’t come out of nowhere. This is in fact due to the explosion in the “spot” price of electricity, which has risen from an average of around 50 euros per MWh to over 250 euros today. This has made wind turbines very competitive compared to fossil fuels, which were previously considered cheap but continue to rise in price. Adding to this is a more structural downward move in renewable energy costs, as they have plummeted over the decade. For a long time traded at 200 euros per MWh, offshore wind power is now only 45 euros (purchase price for the future Dunkirk park) and thus significantly below the current prices for fossil gas on the market.

Three questions to understand the rising electricity prices in France

However, the contracts provide for financial compensation for renewable energy operators when “spot” prices are below a target price set in tenders, but in return also a payment of the excess to the electricity public when these prices are higher. ” A win-win mechanism for wind power and the state “, FEE boasts today, since wind power producers can now use the crisis to pay off their “debts”.

And if the association assumes that everyone will be reimbursed by 2025, it is simply because prices on the electricity market will remain high and will flirt around 200 euros per MWh until then, before leveling off at around 90 euros per MWh in the next ten years, according to CRE’s outlook. ” With regard to the orders of magnitude, FEE’s estimates of wind income appear realistic ‘ confirms a CRE source The gallery.

Uncertain forecasts

However, these figures remain estimates and no one today knows how to accurately predict price developments in the coming months. The government had also long claimed the price hike was just ” cyclic » and would calm down with the arrival of spring before admitting that it will last « most likely for a long time without naming a date. The outcome is all the more uncertain as the war in Ukraine that began almost two months ago has destabilized the markets somewhat more and left the analysts disarmed.

“The CRE calculates the public energy service charges once a year and the next assessment will not be published until July, the work is in progress”, specifies one of the CRE.

The international situation could also weigh heavily on the wind industry, while offshore tower steel is currently selling for more than $2,000 a ton, about three times what it was a few months ago. ” The state of the supply chain is […] just unhealthy […] because we have an inflationary market, even exceeding last year’s what anyone predicted Sheri Hickok, CEO of GE Renewable Energy (French subsidiary of American General Electric), recently warned. And to emphasize that the war has everything mixed-up for onshore wind power, the costs of which could increase as a result.

War in Ukraine: after oil, gas … the price of steel rises