PARIS, Sept 30 French engineering firm Alstom
said it will bid jointly with energy company GDF Suez
for a pilot project the government is launching later
on Monday to develop wave and tidal energy.
The construction project for some 30 to 40 undersea turbines
at a site off the Normandy coast is expected to start in 2015,
with full-scale commercial production pencilled in for sometime
between 2020-2025, sources told Reuters earlier this month.
France has Europe's second-biggest tidal energy potential
after Britain with a production capacity of 3,000 to 5,000
megawatts, energy industry experts estimate. That is equivalent
to three to five average-sized nuclear reactors.
President Francois Hollande is due to launch the production
tender on Monday at the Normandy site, where GDF Suez Chief
Executive Officer Gerard Mestrallet and Jerome Pecresse, head of
Alstom's renewable energy branch, signed a cooperation deal.
"Alstom and GDF Suez will jointly define the technical
parameters that will allow to make best use of the Raz Blanchard
current (a high potential marine site in northwestern France),"
Alstom said in a statement.
Alstom is already testing a 1-MW turbine in Scottish waters.
Britain has 12 large-scale prototype sea turbines in operation
with a generating capacity of 9 MW of clean electricity, more
than the rest of the world combined.
Operating on the same principle as wind turbines, the power
in marine turbines comes from tidal currents which turn blades
similar to ships' propellers, but unlike wind the tides are
predictable and the power output is constant.
(Reporting by Muriel Boselli; Editing by John Stonestreet)