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.
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.
Minister 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.
(By Geert De Clercq and Jean-Baptiste Vey)