The French energy ministry is firming up plans to construct a 1-gigawatt (GW) wind farm off the northern coast of Normandy with up to 80 wind turbines of around 12 megawatts each.
The ministry said wind and seabed conditions were very favourable for offshore wind power at the proposed site.
The call for tenders could be launched in 2021, in accordance with the roadmap defined by the country’s Multiannual Energy Program.
France wants to boost the share of renewable generation capacity in its energy mix and reduce its dependence on nuclear energy.
It plans to shut down old nuclear plants and will phase out coal-fired generation to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
“The development of renewable energies, especially at sea, is a major component of the diversification of our electricity mix,” Ecology Minister Elisabeth Borne, who is also in charge of the energy portfolio, said in the statement.
The ministry said it plans to boost the share of renewables in the French energy mix to around 40% by 2030.
Nuclear power from its 58 reactors currently covers around 75% of French electricity needs.
Although France has one of Europe’s longest coastlines with good wind speeds for viable wind farm projects, it is well behind other EU countries in developing offshore wind projects.
The government announced in June that it will double its target for developing offshore wind projects to 1 GW per year from 500 MW.
It currently has no offshore wind farm in operation.
The Normandy offshore project is likely to attract bids from major energy companies such as state-controlled utility EDF , energy major Total and Engie as the firms vie to expand the footprint in the renewables sector.
EDF edged out rivals Total and Engie for a contract to build a 600-megawatt (MW) offshore wind project near Dunkirk in western France in June.
Consultations on the new windfarm have shown that the country’s powerful fishing lobby opposes the new plans.
On November 16, fishing industry representatives clearly expressed their opposition at a public debate in Cherbourg.
According to L’Actu Normandie website, the fishermen explained that they had accepted plans for the Courseulles and Fécamp wind farms in 2012 only on condition there would be no other projects off the coast of Normandy.
They said that recent events had severely restricted areas open to fishing, with new cross-Channel electric cables, the extraction of aggregates, marine protected areas and other areas being declared off-limits for different reasons making it increasingly hard for them to make a living.
They also faced the uncertainty of whether they would still be able to fish in UK coastal waters after Brexit.
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