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UPDATE 2-EDF consortium wins 600 MW Dunkirk offshore wind project

* Winning bid from EDF, Innogy, Enbridge consortium

* Winning tariff well below 50 euros/MWh - ministry (Adds EDF statement, CEO quote, background)

PARIS, June 14 (Reuters) - A consortium led by French state-owned utility EDF has won a contract for a major 600 megawatt (MW) offshore wind project near Dunkirk in western France, Environment Minister Francois de Rugy said on Friday.

EDF’s bid in partnership with Germany’s Innogy and Canada’s Enbridge beat rivals including utility Engie in partnership with Portugal’s EDPR and energy group Total in partnership with Denmark’s Orsted

De Rugy said nine international energy and industrial companies had shown an interest in the project and that seven had made a bid.

“EDF has been chosen,” de Rudy said in Saint Nazaire, western France, where he was launching a separate EDF offshore wind project.

The ministry said the tariff proposed by the winning consortium was significantly lower than 50 euros per megawatt hour (MWh). That compares with 63 euros/MWh for an onshore wind tender of around 516 MW that was awarded by the government on Wednesday.

EDF’s bid was the highest ranked by the energy markets regulator CRE, which studied the proposals, the ministry said.

It also said the price was comparable to the best prices seen in European offshore wind projects and demonstrated the competitiveness of the French wind industry.

The wind farm will have forty-five wind turbines producing 2.3 terawatt hours of electricity per year from 2026, equivalent to the consumption of around 500,000 French households.

EDF, which operates France’s 58 nuclear reactors that accounts for over 75 percent of the country’s electricity needs, is rapidly expanding into wind and solar generation.

Its EDF Renewables subsidiary, which manages around 13 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity globally, has a project portfolio of more than 2 GW in France. It is negotiating to participate in two projects in China totalling 500 MW and also developing an area with a potential of 2,500 MW in the United States.

Dunkirk is the fourth offshore project the group has won in France through a public-sector tender process, after Saint-Nazaire, Fécamp and Courseulles-sur-Mer projects in 2012.

“Our winning bid was highly competitive, and this has notably prompted the government to double the offshore wind power targets contained in its multi-year energy Plan, giving new development opportunities for EDF and all participants in the sector,” EDF’s CEO Jean-Bernard Levy said in a statement.

The government said on Wednesday it would double the pace of developing offshore wind projects to 1 GW per year from around 500 MW previously as costs are falling.

France is racing to increase its renewable power generation capacity to reduce its dependence on nuclear energy and phase out coal power production to curb greenhouse gas emissions. (Reporting by Bate Felix and Simon Carraud; Editing by Geert De Clercq, Jane Merriman and Mark Potter)