France opens 300 MW solar tender in Fessenheim nuclear conversion plan

PARIS, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The French government said it has opened bids for a 300 megawatt solar power project as part of the conversion programme for its Fessenheim nuclear power plant that is due to be decommissioned by 2022.

The energy ministry said on Wednesday that it had notified the European Commission of its plans to launch the 250 million euros ($284 million) project and that the EU executive arm, which must clear all state aid, had approved it on Jan. 18.

“The launch of the tender shows the commitment of the government on the conversion of Fessenheim. It will help develop local electricity production from renewable energies,” French energy minister François de Rugy said in a statement.

The project would be carried out in three phases and the first bids are expected in six months. Two hundred mega watts would be ground-based solar plants, 75 MW would be rooftop solar installations, while 25 MW will be smaller installations.

The Fessenheim nuclear power plant, France’s oldest, operates two 900-megawatt (MW) reactors.

Those reactors are due to close as part of the government’s plan to reduce France’s dependence on nuclear power, and increase the development of renewable energies.

$1 = 0.8800 euros Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta