Government selects just one project -- French 500 MW tender

After much uncertainty, French industry minister François Loos has announced the outcome of the government's tender process for 500 MW of offshore wind power launched in 2004. Of the eleven bids submitted, Loos is retaining just one, a 105 MW project proposed by Germany's Enertrag and Prokon Nord. France's national wind power total so far is 420 MW.

The offshore project site is in northern France, seven kilometres off Veulettes-sur-Mer on the Côte d'Albâtre in the Seine-Maritime département on the English Channel coast. The 21, 5 MW turbines will be installed in a water depth of 23 metres. French national utility EDF will buy the electricity at a guaranteed price of EUR 100/MWh, more than double the EUR 45/MWh rate on the main French electricity market. Loos says the project will cost electricity consumers an extra EUR 17 million a year.

The project was selected on the criteria of price, environmental impact, conflict of usage and technical and financial criteria concerning the project sponsors. It now has to attain siting permission, a process which includes a public inquiry. Under the tender terms, the development must be completed in 2007.

Another tender

Loos says this first offshore project in French waters will, "allow France to familiarise itself with offshore wind installations and to appreciate their value." He hopes there will be other projects in future and is going to launch another tender call which will place more emphasis on public information and consultation. "I hope the price offered will be equally low," he says, referring to the just completed tender. "Opinion polls show that the French are willing to pay a little more for renewable energy, but they do not want it to be too expensive."

The project is slated to use 21 Multibrid 5 MW turbines, technology acquired early last year by Prokon Nord from German company Pfleiderer (Windpower Monthly, January 2004). The first Multibrid prototype was installed near Bremerhaven earlier this year. The Multibrid was designed by German wind engineering company Aerodyn, who sold the development rights to Pfleiderer.

Prokon and Enertrag say their "long and careful planning" of the French bid and the special attention they paid to the local ecology and tourism industry was especially valued by the French government in making its decision. Local project development was by Enertrag France with Prokon Nord feeding in its offshore development experience gathered in working on proposals for projects in England and Germany.

New foundation

Prokon Nord Energiesysteme was set up in 1997 and founded Enertrag, an unlisted stockholding company, in 1998. Prokon is the developer of the first offshore wind project in Germany to gain a construction permit, in November 2001. The company has just sold that project, Borkum West in the North Sea, to a new German offshore wind foundation, recently established with government support (page 47).

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