France awards first round of offshore wind tenders

Officials awarded tenders for four offshore wind sites, all located on France’s north coast, with a total capacity of 1.9GW, to two consortiums led by French utility EDF, and Spanish utility Iberdrola.

The EDF consortium, which includes Danish developer Dong Energy and French turbine manufacturer Alstom, emerged as the main winner, winning three of the four sites. The consortium plans to build 1.4GW of offshore wind capacity at the sites in Brittany and Normandy, using 240 of Alstom’s French-built 6MW turbines.

The award of the final site, 200km of Saint-Brieuc in Brittany, to Iberdrola will see the Spanish company develop a 500MW project in a consortium with UK developer RES, and French turbine manufacturer Areva. The project will comprise turbines built by Areva in a new factory in the northern French port of Le Havre, which the company said could also be used as a manufacturing base if its wins contracts in the UK. The Saint-Brieuc offshore project covers a total area of 80 km2 and comprises 100 wind turbines of 5 MW capacity each.

The companies will now conduct further environmental assessment and stakeholder consultation, before reaching a final investment decision in early 2013.

Keith Anderson, offshore division director of Iberdrola, said: “We have overcome tough competition and this decision is a vote of confidence for the Iberdrola-Eole-RES led consortium as well as a milestone in the creation of a permanent offshore industry for France.”

French giant GDF Suez was left empty handed, despite being the sole bidder on a site in Treport, in the English Channel. The French Government said the GDF Suez offer was rejected because it was “extremely costly”.

The Government now plans to put the Treport site out to tender again in the second round of bidding in the second half of 2012, a tender that will include a site near Noirmantier Island off the Atlantic coast among others.

The first round of the tender process was launched in July 2011, as part of France’s efforts to build 3GW of offshore wind by 2018, and 6GW by 2020.

Under the Renewable Energy Directive, France is required to source 23% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, up from 10% in 2005.