Prices fall in French onshore tender

FRANCE: Twenty-two projects totaling 508.4MW and with an average price of €65.40/MWh have been awarded in round one of France's 3GW onshore wind tender.

Developer Quadran secured 73.5MW of capacity in the tender, across three projects

This is 9% below the tariff for smaller projects, currently standing at a minimum of €72/MWh, and represents a 23% drop on the premium purchase price of €85/MWh awarded under the previous support mechanism.

"The results are unambiguous: the maturity and competitiveness of onshore wind... is a reality," energy minister Nicolas Hulot said.

The competitive tenders are open to projects of seven turbines and above, and smaller projects where at least one turbine exceeds 3MW.

Among the successful candidates, Nordex, Quadran, WPD and Volkswind were each awarded over 50MW.

Developer Total capacity No. of projects
Nordex 99.6MW 3
Quadran 73.50MW 3
wpd 64.6MW 3
Volkswind 56.1MW 2
Valorem 36MW 1
H2Air 33MW 1
Vent du Nord 32.4MW 1
Valeco 31.8MW 2
David Energies 21.3MW 2
WEB 18MW 1
VSB 16.8MW 1
GEG 15.4MW 1
EDF-EN 9.9MW 1
source: Envinergy


These and other winners will receive a top-up to the market price to match their bid price, plus a bonus of €2-3/MWh linked to citizen participation, guaranteed for 20 years.

Projects must be online by 1 March 2021.

Overall, bids totaling around 900MW were submitted, according to industry sources. "This is good for competition," noted Pierre-Albert Langlois, responsible for law and regulations at French wind energy association FEE.

However, FEE is concerned by Hulot's indication that the government will lower the threshold for smaller projects to receive a top-up payment without having to go to competitive tender, currently set at six turbines, all less than 3MW.

This system is essential because of the number of constraints on space and turbine height in France, notably due to the presence of radar, Langlois argues.

Round two of the competitive tenders, for another 500MW, will close on 1 June.

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson also welcomed the results, but said more could be done to help improve Frace's wind market: "It's good to see costs fall. But they remain higher in France than elsewhere in Europe for a number of reasons.

"First, because project lead-time in France is seven to nine years on average, and once you apply for your permit at the start of the process it's almost impossible to update it later on with the latest technology, so French developers don't install state of the art turbines.

"Also the tip height of turbines is often limited to 150m or less in case of radars and aviation constraints which undermines the deployment of the latest technology.

"Projects are also getting held up in the courts: 70% of authorised projects are currently held up in Administrative Tribunals.

"The government has now proposed reforms that will reduce the average time it takes for wind projects to be completed and connected to the grid. This is very good.

"The government also proposes to partially phase out the Contract for Differences tariff for small projects, reducing the eligibility to very small projects.

"It's extremely important they do this the right way. Retroactive changes undermine investor confidence. They need protection for existing investments and stability and visibility on support mechanisms".