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France publishes 1GW offshore wind tenders
by Staff Writers
Paris (UPI) Mar 25, 2013

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France has officially moved ahead with a second round of tenders for offshore wind farms, thorough which it seeking 1 gigawatt of new capacity.

First announced in September by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and confirmed in January by French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Delphine Batho, terms of the tenders were officially published Friday by the Commission for Energy Regulation, or CRE.

The tender calls for about 200 wind turbines off the French coast for a total installed capacity 1 gigawatt, joining a first tender released last year, which will result in the building of nearly 2 gigawatts of wind turbines in the Pays de Loire, Brittany, Normandy and Upper Normandy.

The government asserts the tender will trigger $4.5 billion in energy company investments and provide 10,000 direct jobs.

A first round of offshore wind power tenders launched in 2011 under the former government of French President Nicolas Sarkozy resulted in 2 gigawatts of bids going to a consortium led by French power giant EDF, wind turbine manufacturer Alstom and Denmark's DONG Energy.

The new tender is split into two wind farms -- one would be built off the city of Le Treport in Normandy with the other near the islands of Noirmoutier and Ile d'Yeu islands off the Vendee department of the Pays de Loire along France's Atlantic coast.

The area off Le Treport covers 68 miles while the Pays de la Loire site covers 50 miles, which each expected to generate 480-500 megawatts of power.

The Treport region also figured in the first round but was rejected because the projected price of electricity generation was considered too high.

CRE documents state the winners of the new tender will be announced in January 2014 with the construction and commissioning phase of the project is scheduled for 2021-23.

The maximum price of the electricity to be generated by the by new farms was set at $260 per megawatt-hour to avoid producing "sticker shock" for consumers. The CRE also chose to set aside a 2-month deadline for submissions that was in force the first time, instead giving bidders until Nov. 29 to prepare their pitches.

The results of the first tender were criticized for strengthening EDF's control over the market, especially after French competitor GDF Suez was shut out in four bids, the British energy analysts ICIS Heren reported.

"If EDF was the best-placed candidate in terms of price, there's nothing that can be done, and, if that happens again this time, it's hard to argue with it," an unnamed utility company source told the website.

Alstom Chief Executive Patrick Kron has confirmed interest in the current Treport and Noirmoutier sites along with his EDF and DONG partners, the regional daily Ouest France reported.

The new wind power tender come as France is having a national debate on energy transition, under which Hollande has pledged to reduce the country's reliance on nuclear energy to 50 percent by 2025.

He has set a goal of producing 23 percent of the country's energy mix from renewables by 2020, including 19 gigawatts from onshore wind turbines and 6 gigawatts from offshore installations.


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