EDF and Alstom big winners in French offshore wind farm tender

A consortium led by energy giant EDF and engineering firm Alstom has emerged as the big winner from the first round of tenders for offshore wind farm development zones in French waters.

The French government announced on Friday that the group had won three tenders for prospective offshore wind farm sites, with Spanish energy firm Iberdrola and French engineering giant Areva securing the rights for the fourth zone on offer.

Energy Minister Eric Besson told reporters that together the two consortia would invest €7bn in the projects, installing 2GW of offshore wind energy capacity.

He added that the move would create up to 10,000 new jobs and "position France among the leaders of the offshore industry".

With the UK and Germany also pursuing ambitious plans for gigawatts of new offshore wind capacity, the deals further cement northern Europe’s position as the world’s leading offshore wind energy hub.

The new projects are all located off France’s north coast with EDF securing the rights for sites off the coast at Saint-Nazaire, Courseulles-sur-Mer and Fecamp, while Iberdrola and Areva were awarded a zone at Saint-Brieuc.

According to reports, new turbine factories are now expected to be located at Saint-Nazaire, Cherbourg and Le Havre, on France’s north-west coast. However, construction at the sites is not expected to start until 2020.

The French government had originally announced plans for 3GW of new offshore wind capacity, and Besson said a second tender round would be launched later in the year.

The round is likely to include a fifth site at Le Treport, which was not awarded during the first tender round despite an application from engineering firms Siemens and GDF Suez.