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Frances Bold Wind Plan To Make Up Lost Ground

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced a brave new plan to build offshore wind turbines, producing a total of 3,000 MW and requiring a massive investment of €10bn Euros. A call for bids for the construction of the turbines was to be launched later this year, the president said, adding that 600 turbines were to be constructed in five sites: Saint-Nazaire, le Trépot, Fécamp, Courseulles-sur-Mer and Saint-Brieuc. France, which currently gets most of its energy through its extensive nuclear power facilities, is expected to pick the winning offshore candidates in early 2012, with the project up and running by 2015.

The French government is releasing €100m to help develop an impressive network of wind power in a mega-project which will create an impressive 10,000 jobs, according to the President. The government has also pledged that France will be running on 23 per cent renewable energy by 2020. The country which gave the world Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Victor Hugo and the Citroen Deux Chevaux, also boasts plans to produce 25,000 MW from wind turbines, of which 6,000 MW will come from offshore.

To put that into perspective, the UK, which leads Europe in the field, currently produces 1,341 MW offshore. “Our aim is to have an outstanding national sector emerge to build the means to produce these offshore wind turbines and to look towards exporting them,” the President said. The first five offshore wind farms could represent a total capacity of 3,000 MW – enough capacity to power the cities of Lyon and Marseille combined. “We are launching this first tender covering five development areas for offshore wind power in order to give the industry’s players greater visibility,” President Sarkozy added.

The announcement, originally anticipated last September, followed a press release announcing that Alstom and EDF Energies Nouvelles had agreed to respond jointly to a call for tenders launched by the French government regarding these first offshore wind farms. Under the agreement, Alstom would be the exclusive supplier of 6 MW offshore wind turbines, based on leading technologies available on the market from 2013 onwards. It all makes good sense: France enjoys Europe’s second largest wind potential, and that wind resource is well distributed across the country. With nearly 4,500 MW of onshore wind power installed at the end of 2009, France is the fourth largest market in Europe after Germany, Spain and Italy.


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