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France prepares second offshore wind power tender

09 Jan 2013 17:37:24 | edem

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France's environment and energy ministry will launch its second offshore wind tender in March, and the government is keen to increase competition for this round, following incumbent EDF's success in the first tender.

The tender is for a projected 1GW of capacity to be developed on sites off the coast of western and northern France, with Tréport accounting for 480-500MW and Yeu and Noirmoutier the same amount. Candidates will have until September to place their bids.

The ministry has proposed changes and improvements to the specifications of the upcoming offshore wind tender, including creating a cap on the projected production cost of power generated at the sites, which would exclude bids above this level. "This will make it possible to increase competitive pressure and to manage proposed prices and the impact of selected projects on electricity bills," according to a statement from the ministry late on Tuesday afternoon.

The ministry has referred the specifications of the second offshore wind tender to the energy regulator CRE, according to the statement. The regulator will make a decision on the criteria determined by the ministry in about a month, said a spokeswoman from renewable lobby group SER.

CRE will analyse the offers made by January 2014, when the winners will be nominated. Construction and progressive activation of the facilities is expected to take place from 2021-2023, according to the ministry.

First offshore wind tender

Five zones in northern and western France were made available for bidding in France's first offshore wind tender, launched in July 2011, and winning bids were selected in April 2012.

Of the sites originally on offer, amounting to 3GW capacity, three were awarded to a consortium led by EDF, which included the manufacturer Alstom and Denmark's DONG Energy. A fourth zone was awarded to Spain's Iberdrola along with French manufacturer Areva, and the fifth zone, Tréport, was rejected as the projected price of electricity generation for the site was considered too high. The resulting prospective installed capacity from the four sites is 2GW (see EDEM 10 April 2012).

GDF SUEZ made four unsuccessful bids during the first wind power tender in July 2011, including one for the Tréport site.

Construction of the facilities made available in the first tender will begin in 2015, after studies of environmental impacts have been conducted and authorisation for occupation of the sites has been granted.

The results of the first tender were criticised for strengthening EDF's control over the market. "If EDF was the best placed candidate in terms of price, there's nothing that can be done, and, if that happens again this time, it's hard to argue with it," said one source at a utility active in the French market on Wednesday.

Expectations

Previously, potentially 3GW was expected to be on offer as part of the second offshore wind tender.

At the government's environmental conference held in September 2012 (see EDEM 26 September 2012), the ministry declared that the second tender would be launched by the end of 2012, but, when this did not materialise, sources close to the matter spoken to in January indicated it could take up to three months before anything happened.

French incumbent generator EDF were unwilling to comment on the new tender. A spokesman from Spanish utility Iberdrola said the group is considering options, and will make a decision about whether to place a bid in the next two weeks. GDF SUEZ's spokesperson stated that they will analyse the technical aspects of the specifications drafted by the ministry before making a decision.

A source close to the matter suggested GDF SUEZ may not bid, as their investment strategy is now focused outside Europe.

The ministry was unavailable to comment further. BM

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