These are busy times for WPD Offshore’s business in France, as it progresses two projects through the permitting process, and decides how it will participate in the country’s second offshore wind tender, widely expected to be launched in December.
As the original developer of the Fécamp and Courseulles-sur-Mer projects, WPD Offshore retains a minority share in both – 30% in Fécamp and 15% in Courseulles-sur-Mer.
"We have two roles in the development consortium. We are leading the development of Fécamp and Courseulles, and we are a shareholder in both projects," explained Vincent Balès, managing director (MD) of WPD Offshore France. "WPD is not just a developer, we are part of the whole lifecycle of a project."
Having partnered with EDF, Dong Energy and Alstom on Fécamp and Courseulles, WPD is deeply involved in the ongoing permitting process. Studies are underway to produce the environmental impact assessments (EIAs) that regional and maritime prefects will require, as well as demonstrating to the French energy ministry that the projects are economically and technically feasible.
Public debates will take place next year, with 12-15 public meetings planned for each project. They will begin in February or March, confirmed Balès, speaking with Windpower Offshore.
WPD is not involved in the EDF-led consortium’s third offshore wind project, Saint-Nazaire. This is being developed in partnership with Nass & Wind.
Second tender plans
One of the two sites expected to be included in the French government’s second offshore wind tender is what Balès describes as a "WPD historical site", meaning that the company has a deep knowledge of the location, having long studied its suitability for development.
"The Vendée site is a promising site with good local support and conditions. WPD will bid for this site, for sure," said Balès.
It has not yet been decided which companies WPD will partner with for the second tender. "We are having discussions with various potential partners. Nothing has been signed as of today," explained Balès. It is probable that WPD will again form part of an EDF-led consortium. Balès indicated that it has some "common interests and common values" with its first round partners.
Also yet to be decided is whether WPD will be part of a consortium that will bid for the Le Tréport site. It was included in the first tender, but attracted only one bid – from a GDF-Suez-led consortium – which was rejected by the government on cost grounds.
GDF-Suez is expected to bid again for the site, as it has yet to gain entry to the French offshore wind market, though it has recently bought into the Belgian market.
One reason for WPD to bid for Le Tréport would be its proximity to Fécamp. This could allow for optimisation of construction resources. However, Balès is not certain there is sufficient local support for the project, although authorities in Dieppe and at Dieppe Harbour are keen for the project to go ahead.
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