French industry seeks improved system for second tender

FRANCE: The French wind industry is poised for a second offshore tender to be announced before the end of the year.

Island of Noirmoutier: Location for 600MW
Island of Noirmoutier: Location for 600MW

It is expected to comprise a a new 600MW project near the Ile of Noirmoutier, on the Atlantic coast, and a 700MW project off Le Treport in the English Channel, which is being offered for a second time. While the tender specifications have not yet been revealed, the industry is hoping to see some modifications from the first round.

Top of the industry's wish list are more zones and a larger capacity. Given that only 1.9GW was allocated in the first round of tendering, and those projects still have to be confirmed and go through the permitting process hoops, France is unlikely to install much more than 2GW by 2020, against a target of 6GW.

Frederic Lanoe, managing director of wind energy firm EDP Renewables France, said another problem with such a limited tender is that the number of candidates is likely to be small, meaning less competition and higher prices. Philippe Gouverneur, offshore spokesman for the French wind energy association FEE, agreed.

As things stand, the tender favours turbines made in France. While this is good for manufacturers Areva and Alstom, both of which are building local factories, "the danger is that the price will be artificially high because of the lack of competition", said Gouverneur.

French-made turbines would need to rapidly achieve a competitive price if they are going to win export orders, he added. However, Jean-Francois Petit, development director of French developer-operator Eole-Res, said it was highly unlikely that lower bids would be made in this second round because firms have yet to build up any real experience.

Nevertheless, there could be some redistribution of points in the second tender, according to Brice Cousins, project manager at developer WPD Offshore France. The first round attributed 40 points to the industrial plans, 40 to tender price and 20 to environmental aspects. However, since Areva and Alstom are already establishing factories in France, this might change, with more points allocated to price.


Many in the wind energy industry would also like to see "a certain easement regarding local origins," Lanoe said, in order to broaden the market and encourage competition. France should work to attract experienced players, agreed Arnaud Prugnat, offshore sales manager at manufacturer Siemens France. Siemens was the only non-French turbine manufacturer present in the first round and one of only three major foreign players, alongside energy firms Iberdrola and Dong.

Given that the French government was keen to launch the second tender quickly and give the industry a boost, it is unlikely there will be any major changes in the specifications this time round. Nevertheless, there is no lack of interest. All the companies mentioned above, alongside energy firms EDF Energies Nouvelles, GDF-Suez, Nass&Wind Offshore and Neoen, are in talks with potential partners and waiting eagerly to see what the specifications will contain.

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