France will launch a third tender for offshore wind energy in 2015, the energy and environment ministry said on Tuesday.
France wants to have a combined offshore wind power capacity of 6,000 MW by 2020, but is behind schedule on this target, as the first consortium will not start connecting the first wind turbines to the grid before 2019 or 2020.
Alstom has inaugurated offshore wind turbine production plants in France. The factories, located in Saint-Nazaire, will be devoted to manufacturing nacelles and generators for the company’s Haliade 150-6MW offshore turbines.
“The inauguration of the Saint-Nazaire facility represents a milestone in Alstom’s story and in the country’s own industrial history,” says Alstom Chairman and Managing Director Patrick Kron. “These new plants are France’s first offshore wind turbine production factories. Thanks to them, we shall now be in a position to serve the French market, as well as to meet a growing international demand.”
Construction work on the plants began in May 2013 and was completed in the fall. Currently, the Saint-Nazaire facilities are located within a 14-hectare area and cover a total surface of 19,000 square meters. Ultimately, Alstom says the plants will employ about 300 workers, including 200 assembling the nacelles and 100 producing generators.
The ministry did not detail how much capacity the tender would offer, saying only the criteria-based selection of previous tenders would be replaced by a competitive dialogue.
It said it would also launch a “call for expression of interest” procedure for floating offshore wind turbines next year.
In May, France awarded a 4 billion euro ($5 billion) tender for two offshore wind farms with combined capacity of 1,000 megawatts to a consortium led by gas and power group GDF Suez , with wind turbines to be manufactured by nuclear group Areva.
A first tender with combined capacity of 2,000 megawatts and total investment of 7 billion euros was awarded in 2012. Three wind farms were won by a consortium led by power utility EDF Energies Nouvelles with wind turbines to be made by Alstom, while Spain’s Iberdrola in partnership with Areva won a fourth.
France currently does not have any offshore wind turbines installed, while Britain, Denmark, Germany and other European countries have built more than 2,000 with combined capacity of 7,000 MW.
Floating wind turbines are built for waters deeper than the roughly 50-metres-maximum depth for foundation-based turbines. No floating turbines are produced commercially, but a few prototypes have been in operation in Norway, Portugal and Japan for several years.