UPDATE 2-France awards $5.6 bln offshore wind tender to GDF-led consortium

Wed May 7, 2014 10:54pm IST

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* Total cost of new 1000 MW windfarm 4 billion euros

* France wants to have 6000 MW offshore capacity (Adds quotes from Areva, EDPR executives)

By Geert De Clercq

PARIS, May 7 (Reuters) - The French government has awarded a 4 billion euro ($5.57 billion) tender to build and run two offshore windfarms to a consortium led by French gas and power group GDF Suez, French Energy Minister Segolene Royal said on Wednesday.

The GDF consortium includes Portugal's EDP Renovaveis , France's Neoen Marine and nuclear group Areva . Areva will develop an 8 megawatt (MW) turbine - one of the largest in the world - for the tender.

The tender is for a combined capacity of 1,000 megawatts and follows a tender for 2,000 MW awarded in 2012.

Royal told a news conference she wants France to have a combined offshore windpower capacity of 6,000 MW by 2020, which would then represent 3.5 percent of French power consumption.

"I want to make France one of the leading ecological powers in Europe, we have the means, the capacity and the competences," Royal said.

Early last month, French energy regulator CRE had recommended the GDF consortium win the bid.

The losing consortium was made up of EDF Energies Nouvelles with Germany's WPD Offshore, for whom French Alstom would have produced the turbines.

GDF Suez, which has 47 percent of the consortium, is France's top wind energy group, with more than 1,200 MW capacity. EDP Renewables, with a 43 percent stake, is the world's third-largest wind power group, with more than 8,000 MW of installed capacity, including 314 MW in France.

FIRST TURBINES

Frederic Lanoe, head of EDPR France and Belgium, told Reuters he expects work on the sites will start in 2019, with the first turbines turning around 2020 and full operation scheduled for 2021. Total cost of the two parks is about 4 billion euros, he said.

The companies will install a total maximum of 166 turbines with combined capacity of 1,000 MW, as much as a nuclear reactor, in two zones: 500 MW off the town of Le Treport in northern Normandy and 500 MW off the islands of Noirmoutier and Yeu on the Vendee coast.

A 500 MW windpark can supply enough power for a city the size of Bordeaux, the energy ministry said.

GDF Suez - then in a consortium with Germany's Siemens - was unsuccessful in its bid for France's first offshore wind tender in 2012.

In that tender, for 2,000 MW capacity, a consortium of EDF and Alstom won three of the four sites, at Saint-Nazaire, Courseulles-sur-Mer and Fecamp. Spain's Iberdrola, in partnership with Areva, won a the fourth site at Saint-Brieuc.

That first project, which represented investment of about 7 billion euros, is set to start producing electricity from 2020.

France has lagged behind countries such as Germany, the UK, Spain and Denmark in developing both wind and solar energy.

Offshore wind is a nascent industry - the vast majority of a total of 320 gigawatt installed wind turbine capacity globally is on land, with less than 6 gigawatts is at sea, Lanoe said.

Areva chief executive Luc Oursel said there is potential to build 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power in Europe. One gigawatt equals 1,000 megawatts and roughly corresponds to the output of one nuclear plant.

Lanoe said he hoped France would launch a third tender for offshore wind soon.

"We hope it will be for 5 gigawatts. That would mean 10 new wind farms, ten consortium, and bring a new dynamic to the sector," he said. ($1 = 0.7183 Euros) (Reporting by Geert De Clercq and Jean-Baptiste Vey; Editing by Andrew Callus)

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