EDF Competes With GDF Suez to Win French Wind-Power Projects

Electricite de France SA and GDF Suez SA, the country’s biggest gas and power utilities, are vying to develop two 500-megawatt wind projects off northwestern France in a push to expand clean-energy output.

Their bids to develop installations near Le Treport on the Channel coast south of Calais and between the islands of Noirmoutier and Yeu on the Atlantic coast north of La Rochelle were submitted to the Commission de Regulation de l’Energie, the companies said today.

France invited bids in March to attract investment of about

3.5 billion euros ($4.6 billion) in the second tender for the nation, which has no sea-based wind farms. The country has outlined plans to add 6,000 megawatts of offshore wind, tidal and wave power by 2020 and scale back nuclear energy.

GDF Suez and partners EDP Renovaveis SA, Neoen Marine and Areva SA are proposing a new, larger turbine, Chief Executive Officer Gerard Mestrallet said at a press conference.

“By choosing Areva’s 8-megawatt turbine, we’re significantly lowering electricity-production costs,” Mestrallet said. “Installation and operating costs will also be eased” because fewer turbines will be needed.

The turbine will use similar technology to 5-megawatt machines installed off Germany, Areva CEO Luc Oursel said.

‘Extremely’ Costly

EDF and partners Alstom SA and Wpd Offshore would use Alstom’s 6-megawatt Haliade-150 turbines manufactured at four planned factories at Saint-Nazaire and Cherbourg, the partners said in a joint statement. They expect the wind farms would be installed by 2023.

Assuming GDF Suez wins the tenders, the wind farms would start operating in 2021, it said.

GDF Suez bid for a project at Le Treport in the first round of tenders last year. 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, the utility had been seeking for years to develop the project and had already carried out a series of public hearings and environmental assessments.

EDF, Alstom and Denmark’s Dong Energy A/S were awarded three sites last year 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 “starting in

2018.” Spain’s Iberdrola SA won a fourth. They’ll need about 7 billion euros’ investment for 1,920 megawatts, the government estimated.

Renewables accounted for 16 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.

Both Areva and Alstom plan to erect plants in France to build the turbines.

“There’s the French, the U.K. and the German markets, and we believe in their growth,” Areva’s Oursel said. “We need to add capacities.”

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