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Three groups start head-on fight for France’s 3-GW offshore tender

By Oliver M. Bayani

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Three groups start head-on fight for France’s 3-GW offshore tender
The combined installed capacity of wind farms proposed at Saint-Brieuc and Saint-Nazaire in western France may be as much as 980 MW.

Three consortia led by Iberdrola S.A. and two rival utilities in France have all submitted bids to secure five spots in the French coast earmarked for the development of the country's first offshore wind farms.

The French government had announced plans to have 6 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2020 as it tries to meet a target of sourcing 23 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020. The country currently has no offshore wind energy capacity.

The first 3,000 megawatts was tendered last July. President Nicolas Sarkozy announced in January that the government will invest 10 billion euros ($14.613 billion) in developing offshore wind turbines for the round.

The country generates most of its electricity from nuclear plants and has lagged behind some other European Union countries in renewable capacity, notably wind power.

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Winning bids will be pre-selected in April and finalized in 2013 once the companies secure funding. The wind farms are expected to come online from 2015 to 2020.

Iberdrola's bid

Spain's largest utility, with partners Eole-Res, Areva SA, Technip SA and Neoen Marine, submitted its proposal last Wednesday, vying for two of the five zones.

The combined installed capacity of wind farms proposed at Saint-Brieuc and Saint-Nazaire in western France may be as much as 980 MW, enough to power 1.2 million homes, the Bilbao-based company said in a statement.

One of the world's biggest makers of nuclear equipment, France's Areva allied with Iberdrola in June last year for this consortium. Areva is expected to be the sole supplier of the turbines for the new wind farms, which will be manufactured in Le Havre, northwest of France.

Anil Srivastava, chief executive of Areva Renewables, said it will be the company's 5-MW wind turbine models that will be used in the project.

Technip, another French firm, joined in August. The signed memorandum of understanding between the two companies stated that the company will be part of the design, engineering and construction of wind farms at the two zones.

Eole-Res became a partner in October, bringing in its sister company RES Offshore which specializes in offshore wind power development.

Neoen Marine signed up in December and will assist in local procedures, environmental and technical research and securing regulatory approval.

Rival utilities

'Electricit'e de France S.A. and GDF Suez S.A. are going head-to-head to secure the lion's share in the 3,000-MW worth of wind farms to be built in France. Like Iberdrola, they also submitted proposals last Wednesday.

GDF, along with Vinci S.A. and CDC Infrastructure, is bidding to have four of the five zones, including the 500-MW Saint-Brieuc zone also being eyed by Iberdrola. The rest includes Courseulles-sur-Mer, Dieppe-Le Tr'eport and F'ecamp.

On the other hand, EDF's renewable energy business EDF Energies Nouvelles S.A., also submitted proposals to build on four of the five zones. The utility wants to secure Saint-Brieuc, Courseulles-sur-Mer, F'ecamp and Saint-Nazaire for their project sites.

The EDF-led consortium, founded in May last year, is comprised of Dong Energy, Nass & Wind Offshore and WPD Offshore.

EDF said four factories could be established at two sites at Saint-Nazaire and Cherbourg to manufacture all the required turbine components. Eight assembly facilities could also be established at the ports of Saint-Nazaire, Brest, Cherbourg and Le Havre.

Alstom S.A., the world's third-largest power-equipment maker, agreed with EDF in January last year to be the exclusive supplier of the 6-MW offshore wind turbines to be used by the utility for the project.

GDF will get its wind turbines from Areva on three projects and Germany's Siemens A.G. on one. A statement from GDF last May confirmed that the 5-MW M5000 wind turbine will also be used.



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