France Offshore Wind Power

France Readies $13 Billion Offshore Wind Farm Project

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted April 4, 2012

Much of Europe has outpaced France in the construction of offshore wind farms. But the government there is now deciding on the winner of a bid for the nation’s first.

Industry Minister Eric Besson said that the decision will be announced sometime this week for the $13.3 billion tender.

The wind farm will consist of five different wind parks.  The plan is for a total of 600 turbines to generate 3 gigawatts of power located off the coasts of Normandy and Brittany.

Contenders for the farm include French companies GDF Suez (EPA: GSZ) and EDF (EPA: EDF) unit EDF Energies Nouvelles, as well as the Spanish company Iberdrola (PINK: IBDRY).

The EDF consortium consists also of Alstom, a French engineering company, and Dong, a Danish utility, and it appears to be the first choice in its bid on four of the five parks.

The French energy regulator has expressed favor for EDF’s bid, and EDF chief executive Henri Proglio showed confidence:

“The regulator has submitted a report which I’m told is quite positive for EDF.”

The energy regulator is advisor to President Nicolas Sarkozy on the decision.

Only the GDF Suez consortium, including nuclear specialist Areva and Vinci, a construction company, has bid on the fifth wind park.  There are rumors that this project might be cancelled.

But in the next few months France has also planned to begin bidding for a second phase in the project, which will put capacity at 6 GW in the next 8 years.

France hopes to cut down on nuclear dependence with this focus on wind energy.  But Europe may be facing an overcapacity of wind farms, and other nations are cutting down on wind subsidies.

Still, this wind farm would offer alternative power to the nation and work toward a reduction in emissions.