France announces third offshore wind power tender

French energy minister says new tender will be launched for offshore turbines to be built off the coast near Dunkirk

France is set to launch a new tender for the development of the country’s latest offshore wind farm, energy minister Segolene Royal said on Monday.

The tender will be the third round to be awarded by the French government for fixed-foundation offshore wind farms, though neither of the previous two have yet been installed.

France’s first 2GW round of tenders were awarded in 2012, with a consortium led by energy giant EDF and engineering firm Alstom emerging with three of the four sites, while a second tender was awarded in 2014.

Royal said the new turbines would be built off the northern harbour of Dunkirk, which she said will provide favourable conditions for fixed offshore wind turbines.

However, she did not specify how big the tender would be, or the end date for bids.

The process would include a new procedure of “competitive dialogue” with bidders which will allow them to discuss their tenders with the government and improve them before final submissions are made, Royal said.

She added that studies on the wind, wave, depth and soil composition would be made by public institutions before the final submission of tenders, in order to give manufacturers the chance to consider risks and refine their proposals.

However, French renewables industry body Syndicat des Énergies Renouvelables (SER) said the decision to only include a single zone in the tender could hamper the sector’s long term prospects.

“France contains all the attributes required to become a large market for offshore wind and take advantage of the lower costs of this technology already established in Europe,” said SER senior figures in a joint release. “The minister’s announcements so far are only a first step to achieve towards achieving competitiveness and industrial structure.”

The group also urged the government to launch new tendering programs for other sectors such as solar photovoltaics.

In related news, ENGIE, EDP Renewables, Caisse des Dépôts and Eiffage this week submitted a joint proposal for the French government’s floating offshore wind project, which is currently being tendered.

The proposal includes plans to build three to six turbines of at last 6MW each, joined by a semi-submerged, floating foundation at the Leucate site in the Mediterranean.