Sarkozy launches 10-billion euro tender for offshore wind power

"Our aim is to have an outstanding national sector emerge to build the means to produce these offshore wind turbines and to look towards exporting them," he said in a speech in the western port of Saint-Nazaire. Around 10,000 jobs will be created in the wind energy sector, Sarkozy said.

The French President Nicolas Sarkozy, unveiled plans to build the country’s first offshore wind project. The project would build 600 offshore wind turbines with a total capacity of 3,000 megawatts, however the location has not been disclosed. The total investment would be around 10 Billion Euros and would create an estimated 10,000 jobs, Mr. Sarkozy said as he launched the tender. The successful bidders would be announced in 2012.

"We are launching this first tender covering five development areas for offshore wind power in order to give the industry’s players greater visibility," Sarkozy said. This ambitious project – one of the world’s largest in terms of power production – is seen by many as France’s attempt to catch up with its European neighbours on wind power. Currently, wind power meets less than 2% of French demand which is heavily reliant on nuclear power which meets 80% of the country’s electricity requirments.

The French Government has pledged to invest 20 Billion Euros in wind power to produce 25,000 megawatts by 2020 to ensure renewable green energy can meet 23% of the country’s electricity demand. France is not alone in its quest to secure wind power to meet its energy needs.

10 European countries have recently signed an agreement to build a European supergrid that connects wind power generating facilities in the Baltic, Irish and North Seas.

In the UK, wind power has become a major priority and the country wants to meet 25% of its demand from 32,000 megawatts of wind power by 2020.

The tender will be opened in the second quarter of this year, officials added. Six hundred wind turbines are to be built at a number of sites along France’s lengthy Atlantic and Channel coasts. The aim is to create production capacity of 3,000 megawatts of electricity generated from 10 wind far different sites, officials at the ecology and energy ministry have said.

The first wind farm resulting from this tender are not due to be up and running before 2015. By 2020 the government says it hopes for offshore wind farm plants with a production capacity of 6,000 megawatts.

The 3,000 MW total wind power capacity of the new project is the equivalent of two nuclear power stations. France has set itself the goal of producing 23 per cent of its power needs from renewable resources by 2020, with 6,000 MW from wind power. The new offshore wind farms should start generating power in 2015.

GDF Suez subsidiary Compagnie du Vent already has plans in place for 141 5MW wind turbines 14km off the coast at Le Tréport; that would be enough to meet the electricity needs of 990,000 people.

EDF Energies Nouvelles (Paris:EEN) and Alstom announced the signature of an exclusive agreement to respond jointly to a call for tenders that the French government is planning to launch for offshore wind power projects. The agreement covers the future construction of offshore wind farm plants developed by EDF Energies Nouvelles and its partners and that will be equipped with offshore wind turbines manufactured by Alstom.

This alliance is intended to help meet the French government’s objectives of installing 6,000 MW in offshore wind energy capacity in France by 2020. It illustrates both groups determination to foster the emergence of a French competitive industry creating jobs.