French tender call for 1GW of offshore wind

Government finally puts two zones out for tender

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The French government has launched a second tender call for 1GW of offshore wind. It consists of two zones but with a slightly lower total capacity than expected. Energy minister Delphine Batho said the tender would "consolidate the development of the industry" and secure 10,000 direct jobs.

The zones earmarked for offshore wind development are off the town of Le Tréport, in the Channel, and near the Isle of Noirmoutier, in the Atlantic. Installed capacity in each case is 480-500MW. The Le Tréport zone also featured in the first tender, with a capacity of 600-750MW. GDF Suez was the only bidder at the time. The government declared the proposed price was too high and decided to withdraw the zone.

While the tender terms have not yet been issued, the government has announced several changes in the light of the first round. Most importantly, the way the price is assessed has been altered to encourage lower bids. In the first call, the rating criteria did not prove to be "sufficiently discriminating", the ministry said: bids were either above or only slightly below the government's ceiling price. In this round, bids will be scored in inverse proportion to their price, with the highest receiving no points at all. Any bids over a specified amount will be eliminated.

The allocation of points applies the same criteria as in the first round: up to 40 for price; 40 for the industrial component, including plans to establish local supply lines and create jobs; and 20 for environmental issues and conflict handling.

The energy ministry will take four months instead of two to assess the applications. The timetable has been revised to take into account delays in completing the grid connection, which the industry has warned may cause delays to projects awarded in the first round.

Bids must be in by September, and the outcome will be announced early 2014. Construction and commissioning is expected to take place from 2021 to 2023, thus confirming that France will fail to meet its target of 6GW turning offshore in 2020. The first tender round resulted in only 2GW being awarded out of the 3GW offered. It is not clear if there will be further tenders.

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