[CGTN]Could Chinese wind farms power France's green recovery from COVID-19

Create Date:2021-03-19  【 Big Normal Small 】

French President Emmanuel Macron says that he wants to implement a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Macron has been trying to underline his green policies with just over a year to go until the next presidential election.

One area where the French government hopes to show its commitment to sustainable development is in renewable energy – as France lags behind other European countries when it comes to wind farms.

CGTN Europe travelled to Troyes, in eastern France, to a wind farm that is operated by a Chinese firm, CGN Europe Energy.

CGN's engineering director Olivier Texier says he feels pride looking out across the rolling fields around us, dotted with straight, white turbines spinning gently in the late winter sun.

"I remember when I was a young kid I used to watch movies or animé with wind farms and it looked like the future."

French President Emmanuel Macron wants wind farms like this one, developed by Chinese firm CGN in Troyes, to power the country's green recovery from COVID-19./CGTN

The turbines more or less run themselves. They can change to face the direction and angle of the wind – and they can assess whether the gusts are strong enough to spin or too powerful to be able to operate safely.

They can provide enough electricity to power a small village, equivalent to the annual energy usage of around 12,000 people.

"I can say that we always have local people working for us or working with us," says Texier.

"With solar panels or wind farms in a particular place that means that you have employment across the whole land and that is a great advantage for this industry."

Nine more wind turbines are set to be built at a wind farm under construction in Auchay-Sur-Vendee, near Fontenay-le-Comte, western France. There are already 30 in service./AFP

Chinese companies like CGN bring experience in renewable power to the development of wind farm projects across Europe. China is one of the world's biggest producers of carbon emissions but it also makes more than 70 percent of all solar panels and half the world's electric vehicles.

"We believe that for sustainable development we should have new resources for energy including wind power, solar power and other types of energy," says CGN Europe Energy president Huang Yuanzheng.

"All this can change our energy diversity – this can help us to have a bright future, that's my belief. I'm optimistic."

The French government is keen to showcase the country as a model of green policies, but some critics say the greening of the economy is too slow and they challenge the investment in wind turbines.

"There is a conflict over use of inland wind turbines with people who want to conserve the countryside and tourism," says Philippe Ansel, the chief economist at the Concorde Foundation.

"It's an unresolved problem because there is a very significant movement against wind turbines in France."