Tenders entered amid favouritism warning

FRANCE: Tenders have been submitted by three consortia to develop the first five offshore wind-power projects in French waters, along with representations from Germany warning the French government against favouritism being shown to French suppliers.

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The German Engineering Federation has expressed concern that German manufacturers Siemens and Nordex will be discriminated against because of their unwillingness to build manufacturing and assembly facilities in France. Siemens is associated with one of the consortia bids led by GDF-Suez.

High value

Together, the five projects up for grabs are expected to have a combined generating capacity of 3GW and a financial value of EUR10 billion.A consortium led by EDF Energies Nouvelles is planning to use French-built Alstom 6MW turbines. The group also includes Dong Energy, Nass & Wind Offshore (owned by GDF-Suez) and WPD Offshore.

The consortium is bidding for the 480MW Saint-Nazaire project in the Atlantic and the three 500MW English Channel projects at Saint-Brieuc off Brittany along with Courseulles-sur-Mer and Fecamp off Normandy. The third consortium led by Spanish utility Iberdrola is favouring French Areva turbines but may also deploy turbines built by Eole Res, Technip and Neoen.

The consortium has also bid for the Saint-Nazaire and Saint-Brieuc projects.

The fifth site included in the tender is a 750MW Le Treport project earmarked for a site in the English Channel off Upper Normandy. It has attracted a lone bid from the consortium led by GDF-Suez, alongside French construction firm Vinci and French state-owned financial institution CDC, in association with Siemens and Areva. The EDF-led consortium pulled out of the running for Le Treport in December in what is thought to have been due to anticipated opposition from local fishermen.

The GDF-Suez consortium is also bidding for Courseulles, Saint-Brieuc and Fecamp, the latter being the one site where German-built Siemens turbines have been proposed.

Bid winners will be chosen by French energy regulator CRE in the second quarter of 2012. All five schemes are due for completion in 2015-20, by which time 1,200 turbines should be in place generating 3.5% of France's electricity. A further round of tenders for the second phase of French offshore wind development is expected to open in April, which will offer a further 3GW of capacity including a 580MW wind farm in the Atlantic Vendee region. France currently generates about 78% of its electricity from nuclear power but aims to generate 23% from renewable sources by 2020.

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