France to launch offshore wind energy tender

France plans to invite bidders soon to submit proposals to develop offshore wind power in a wind farm project that will provide 3 gigawatts of capacity.

Offshore wind farm development in France is slow, and the legal framework which applies to offshore economic activity is not adapted to wind energy. Preparation for the first offshore wind farm in France began with a government tender in 2005, but due to long authorization procedures, construction has been delayed and is now scheduled to start at the end of 2010.

The French Government has set a target of 6,000 MW of offshore wind power by 2020 through a process of calls for tender. Three calls are foreseen, the first of which should be published in 2010, followed by additional calls in 2012 and 2014.

In addition, calls for tender should be launched on the basis of geographical zones determined by a consultation process involving all stakeholders, which will result in the definition of zones deemed favourable for offshore wind turbines.

The text of the Grenelle 2 Law currently under discussion foresees the suppression of ZDE and permitting requirements for offshore wind farms, which would simplify the autorisation process.

The French legislative and regulatory framework with regards to renewable energy is being fundamentally transformed, and there is, to date, no certainty over the outcome of the reform.

France will launch a second tender for another series of offshore wind farms of the same size at a later stage.