France mulls launch of 750 MW offshore wind turbines tender

The French energy ministry is close to launching a 750 MW tender for offshore wind power off the coastline of the northern city of Dunkirk, people familiar with the matter said this week.
However, the launch of the tender was dependent on the unveiling of France’s energy roadmap – detailing policy to 2028 – due at the end of November, which was set to spur the transition to renewables, Dunkirk mayor Patrice Vergriete told Montel.

The Dunkirk wind farm project is expected to improve the image of offshore wind power in France, damaged by a controversy earlier this year around high costs for the first six offshore wind energy plants (3 GW), launched in 2012 and 2014.

It will also help France meet a target of 32% renewable energy in energy consumption by 2030.

“The tender should reveal rates close to those found in northern Europe of around EUR 60/MWh,” said Jean-Louis Bal, head of green lobby group SER.

Last week, Bal told France’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, that the government was taking “no risk” in launching this tender.

“The minister didn’t seem to know that these prices could be reached as of today.”

The tender result should be known by the end of the first half of 2019 and include “a floor price of EUR 60/MWh”, the Dunkirk mayor added.

Last May, the state pre-selected a dozen competitors, including EDF EN (allied with the subsidiary of Germany’s RWE, Innogy), Engie (with EDPR), Iberdrola, Norway’s Statoil and Sweden’s Vattenfall (with Caisse des Dépôts and German developer WPD).

While Bal said he was “relatively optimistic” about the future of installed offshore wind turbines, due to lower costs, he was more cautious about floating wind turbines because the technology “has not yet proved itself”.

While Europe had a total installed offshore wind capacity of 15,780 MW in 11 countries, mainly in Germany and the UK, France had no turbines operating off its coastlines, said lobby group WindPower.