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GDF Suez, Partners Win French Offshore Wind Tender

GDF Suez SA and its partners won a contract for two 500-megawatt wind projects off northern France, beating a group led by Electricite de France SA.

“France should be a leader for renewable marine energies,” Energy Minister Segolene Royal told reporters. They provide “a unique opportunity to create jobs.”

GDF and partners EDP Renovaveis SA, Neoen Marine and Areva SA will build installations near Le Treport on the coast south of Calais and between the Noirmoutier and Yeu islands on the Atlantic coast north of La Rochelle, according to the ministry. Europe has 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind potential, said GDF Chief Executive Officer Gerard Mestrallet.

France invited bids in March 2013 to attract investment of about 3.5 billion euros ($4.9 billion) in the second tender for the nation, which has no sea-based wind farms. The country plans to add 6,000 megawatts of offshore wind, tidal and wave power by 2020 and scale back dependence on nuclear energy.

The GDF-led group said in November they would use new, larger 8-megawatt turbines to lower electricity-production costs. They planned to start operations in 2021.

Investment in the project will be around 4 billion euros, Frederic Lanoe, country manager of EDP Renovaveis said today.

GDF bid for a project at Le Treport in the first round of tenders in 2012. It came away empty-handed after submitting an offer that was “extremely” costly, former Industry Minister Eric Besson said at the time. Even before losing that tender, GDF had for years been seeking to develop the project and carried out a series of public hearings and environmental assessments.

Saint Nazaire

EDF, Alstom SA and Denmark’s Dong Energy A/S were awarded three sites in 2012 for 498 megawatts at Fecamp, 450 megawatts at Courseulles-sur-Mer and 480 megawatts at Saint Nazaire. EDF said today those projects will come into service from 2018. Spain’s Iberdrola SA won a fourth order.

They’ll need about 7 billion euros of investment for 1,920 megawatts, the government estimated.

Both groups have pledged to build regional manufacturing installations to supply equipment for the French projects as well as for export.

Renewables accounted for 19 percent of France’s total power output last year, with most coming from hydro dams, according to EDF’s grid unit. The country aims to get 23 percent from renewables by the end of the decade.

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