France mulls third offshore wind power tender

Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:49am EST

* Target for 6 GW in offshore wind power capacity by 2020

* 2nd tender to come on stream from 2021

* Sector lobbyists say will be hard to find suitable sites

SAINT-NAZAIRE (France), Jan 21 (Reuters) - France is considering the possibility of launching a third tender for offshore wind power capacity, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Monday as the country seeks to become a leading player in the industry.

A French industry source told Reuters last September that a third tender would be launched after this year's so-called energy transition debate.

"We are thinking about a third tender," Ayrault told journalists during a trip in Saint-Nazaire (western France) that focused on green growth.

Earlier this month, the French government launched a second tender to build 1,000 megawatts in offshore wind capacity, equivalent to that of an average-size nuclear reactor.

France has set a target to build 6,000 megawatts in offshore wind capacity as part of a wider target for renewable energy to cover 23 percent of its energy consumption by 2020.

But sector professionals say France will now miss the target because it has taken too long to launch tenders.

"Capacity for the second tender will only come on stream from 2021," Nicolas Wolff, head of the wind power lobby FEE, said in an interview.

"There is an urgent need for the government to launch this tender to catch up on lost time and give some visibility to the sector," he said, adding that the hard part would be to find suitable sites.

The first tender launched in 2012 was for 2,000 MW. French state-owned utility EDF and Alstom came out as winners of three, and Spain's Iberdrola along with French nuclear reactor maker Areva took the fourth. (Reporting By Guillaume Frouin and Muriel Boselli; editing by Jane Baird)

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