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France to Seek Bids for 3,000 Megawatts of Offshore Wind Farms

France will seek bids for 3,000 megawatts of offshore wind farms that could cost about 10 billion euros ($12.7 billion) to develop, an official said.

The tenders for projects with a total of about 600 turbines will be announced next month by Environment and Energy Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, said the official, who declined to be named in line with government policy. The cost of the projects is based on estimates of 3.5 million euros a megawatt, he said.

France will designate five to 10 offshore areas that have been evaluated for their “environmental compatibility,” Pierre-Franck Chevet, an official at the Environment and Energy Ministry, said last month. The zones are still being studied and no decision has been made about which will be included in the tenders, the official said today.

France, which doesn’t have any offshore wind parks, is seeking to emulate neighbors such as the U.K. in sea-based wind energy, which can have better breezes and be less intrusive on local communities than onshore turbines. GDF Suez SA, owner of the French natural-gas network, is planning a 1.8 billion-euro windpark off northern France, which is being assessed for its environmental impact.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates offshore wind costs are in the range of 3 million euros a megawatt.

The tender process will evaluate the engineering costs of each project to set the price at which power from the turbines can be sold to French utilities, Chevet said last month.

The government is targeting 6,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2020.

Compagnie du Vent, the GDF Suez unit vying to develop the 705-megawatt wind-farm project about 14 kilometers (9 miles) offshore Le Treport in northern France, selected the site as the most favorable in the country, according to documents put on the website of the public inquiry into the project.

Other French sites also considered favorable are further west including one near Utah beach in Normandy, where allied troops invaded occupied France during the Second World War, according to the documents.

Other areas being considered are off Britanny and Languedoc-Roussillon in the Mediterranean Sea, the official said.

EDF Energies Nouvelles SA Chief Executive Officer David Corchia has said the Paris-based company will consider the French tender. “We will be very careful because there are a lot of ways to lose money on offshore projects. Offshore has enormous potential in Europe,” he said at a press conference July 28.

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