France Seeks $13 Billion in Bids for 3,000 Megawatts of Offshore Wind Power

The French government will next month launch a tender for contracts totalling 10 billion euros (12.6 billion dollars) to build 600 offshore wind turbines around the French coast, officials said Tuesday.

The aim is to create production capacity of 3,000 megawatts of electricity generated from 10 different sites, officials at the ecology and energy ministry said.

At the current cost of 3.5 million euros to build each megawatt capacity, "that represents an investment programme of 10 billion euros," a ministry official said.

The tenders for wind energy projects with a total of about 600 wind turbines will be announced next month by Environment and Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo.

France, which doesn’t have any offshore wind farm, is seeking to emulate neighbors such as the U.K. in sea-based wind energy, which can have better breezes and be less intrusive on local communities than onshore wind turbines.

GDF Suez SA, owner of the French natural-gas network, is planning a 1.8 billion-euro wind farm off northern France, which is being assessed for its environmental impact.

France is targeting 6,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2020.

Compagnie du Vent, the GDF Suez unit vying to develop the 705-megawatt wind farm project about 14 kilometers offshore Le Treport in northern France, selected the site as the most favorable in the country.

Other French sites also considered favorable are further west including one near Utah beach in Normandy, where allied troops invaded occupied France during the Second World War, according to the documents. Other areas being considered are off Britanny and Languedoc-Roussillon in the Mediterranean Sea, the official said.

EDF Energies Nouvelles SA Chief Executive Officer David Corchia has said the Paris-based company will consider the French tender. The first wind turbines resulting from this tender are not due to be up and running before 2015.

France currently produces only a tiny amount of its electricity with wind turbines.