France, Economy, Environment Come Out Ahead in Historic First Offshore Wind Tender

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A consortium comprised of France’s EDF and Alstom and Denmark’s Dong Energy were the big winners in a historic first French offshore wind farm tender. Spain’s Iberdrola and France’s Eole-Res also came out ahead in the 3-gigawatt (GW) offshore wind farm tender, winning a contract to build a 500-MW wind farm off the Bretagne (Brittany) coast, French Minister of Industry, Energy and Digital Economy Eric Besson announced April 6.

France plans on installing 6,000-MW worth of offshore wind power by 2020. An initial five contracts totaling 3,000 MW and as many as 6,000 offshore wind turbines spanning five coastal areas were awarded in this first tender.

State-owned Electricite de France (EDF), Alstom and Dong were awarded exclusive contracts to build and operate offshore wind farms with a total rated capacity of 1,428 MW off the Bretagne (Brittany) and Normandy coasts. Joining Iberdrola and Eole-Res in building and operating their 500-MW offshore wind farm is Areva, which will manufacture and maintain the wind turbines used in constructing and operating an offshore wind farm off the coast of Saint-Brieuc.

France, Wind Energy Industry Come Out Ahead in Historic First Offshore Wind Tender

“This decision highlights the experience of our company and of EOLE-RES in developing offshore wind farms, and it firmly establishes the offshore industry in France,” Iberdrola Chairman Ignacio Galan stated. “Equally important is the creation of 2,000 direct jobs during the development and construction of the project and 140 permanent jobs for the park’s 30 years of operation, which will certainly provide a major boost to the economy of Bretagne and the northwest of France”.

Iberdrola’s forging a leading position in Europe’s hotly contested offshore wind farm market, a core facet of EU nations’ plans to shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy resources. The Spanish renewable energy multinational has an offshore wind power pipeline totaling 11,000 MW.

Iberdrola and Eole-Res’s Alas Marinas joint venture company will build and operate the Saint-Brieuc offshore wind farm, which is to include installing 100, 5-MW wind turbines some 20-kilometers (~12 miles) offshore in Saint-Brieuc Bay. The project partners anticipate creating 2,000 jobs in the process.

Alas Marinas JV partners will further analyze technical and environmental conditions at the site over an initial, 18-month period. They’ll also need to establish cooperation agreements with users of the coastal waters in the area.

Joining Iberdrola and Eole-Res in the Alas Marina joint venture are Areva, Technip, STX, Eiffage and Neoen Marine. Having built its energy business around nuclear power, Areva is looking to offshore wind farm development as a growth vehicle and means of diversification. Areva will manufacture the Saint-Brieuc offshore wind farm’s turbines at its factory in Le Havre. It will also be responsible for maintenance.

Technip is to install the Saint-Brieuc offshore wind project’s underwater cables, while Eiffage is responsible for laying the wind turbine foundations and constructing their platforms. Neoen Marine will carry out the environmental studies.

The “Recession-Busting” EU Wind Energy Industry

Spurring development of offshore wind is taking on even greater significance in Europe, as the 17-nation euro zone faces record-high unemployment, its second recession in three years and persistent government deficit and debt problems.

Employment in the EU’s wind energy industry will reach 520,000 by 2020 and 795,000 by 2030 if EU governments continue to keep key renewable energy policies and incentives in place, according to the European Wind Energy Association’s “Green Growth” report.

The EU wind energy industry grew at double the rate of EU GDP in 2010, demonstrating that it is a “recession-busting industry,” EWEA president Arthouros Zervos was quoted as saying at the opening session of EWEA 2012, the industry association’s annual conference, which officially opened in Copenhagen today.

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