France to launch 10-billion-euro tender to boost offshore wind energy

France will invest EUR10bn in a 3 GW offshore wind farm. The wind power project will involve the construction of 600 offshore wind turbines.  "The deployment of wind energy off the French coast needs restructuring of the sector’s actors to ensure the readiness of the French industry to respond the demands in the best conditions, " Sarkozy said during a visit to STX shipyards in Saint-Nazaire.

With the aim, France will launch in the second quarter a tender to build wind turbines off the French coast with a total capacity of 3,000 megawatts, he added. Potential bidders will be picked in 2012. They are expected to invest 10 billion euros (13.61 billion U.S. dollars) to construct 600 wind turbines at five sites in the northern regions of Saint- Nazaire and Le Treport.

The French head of state stressed that the due project will contribute to creating jobs for the growing army of job seekers in the second largest eurozone economy, where jobless rate stands at 9.3 percent. "This industry represents a considerable source of job creation. We estimate that 10,000 jobs could be created," he noted. France wants to boost wind power by building offshore turbines with a total capacity of 6,000 megawatts by 2020.

France aims to build wind power capacity of 25 GW by 2020, including 6 GW offshore wind power, for an investment of EUR20bn to meet its goal of generating enough green energy to cover 23 per cent of demand. A delay in the tender, which was initially expected in September, has led to anxiety among industrial companies. The tender will be organized by the French energy regulator with a start-up of the offshore farms by 2015.

Some 30 French projects of offshore wind farms are in the works for a capacity of 8 GW, which would exceed the target of 6 GW, although many of them were not very advanced.

Vestas, Germany’s Repower and France’s Alstom could figure among the bidders. French utilities such as EDF, GDF Suez or EDF Energies Nouvelles could submit proposals to operate the wind farms. 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. Offshore wind farm plants with 600 wind turbines are to be built on five sites.

Offshore wind farm plants with 600 wind turbines are to be built on five sites between Saint-Nazaire and Dieppe/Le Tréport in a €10 billion project to be announced by President Sarkozy.

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.

Ecology minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet’s department has welcomed the news, saying it has given new life to environmental projects. She had won an internal cabinet battle with industry minister Eric Besson, who had wanted the project scaled back to 2,000MW.

Now companies are being asked to tender for the giant contract, with the average cost of each installation being €3.5m per megawatt, twice the cost of land-based wind turbines.

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.

Under the agreement between the two groups, Alstom is the exclusive supplier of 6 MW offshore wind turbines, based on leading technologies available on the market from 2013 onwards. The industrial plan might lead to the creation of several plants in France to handle component production and assembly. It is also intended to involve other French companies active in R&D activities for equipment and construction engineering. Through this project, Alstom aims to become a major industrial force in the French offshore wind energy segment and one of the leaders in this promising global market.

Leveraging its market-leading expertise in wind energy development, EDF Energies Nouvelles brings the experience acquired over several years in offshore wind energy, notably through two major projects, namely C Power, a 325MW wind farm under construction off the coast of Belgium, of which 30MW are already in service, and the 67MW Teesside project developed in the United Kingdom, construction of which is currently starting up. The offshore wind projects that should be part of this alliance with Alstom are those being developed by EDF EN and its partners within a consortium. Alstom will be the exclusive manufacturer for all these projects.