France wants to renegotiate offshore wind projects: Les Echos

PARIS (Reuters) - The French government wants to renegotiate and possibly cancel offshore wind projects on the French west coast that were awarded in 2012 and 2014, the financial daily Les Echos reported on Friday.

The paper said the government, as part of a package of laws submitted to the Senate, had included an amendment proposing the renegotiation or possible cancellation of the tender awards for a combined 3,000 megawatt of wind power on six sites.

Government officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the Les Echos report.

France awarded tenders in 2012 for a combined offshore capacity of 2,000 MW, representing investment of about 7 billion euros, to two consortia, one led by EDF and one by Spanish utility Iberdrola. It was followed by a 2014 tender for 1,000 MW, worth some 4 billion euros, won by Engie .

EDF declined to comment. Iberdrola and Engie could not immediately be reached for comment.

The projects were expected to produce their first power early in the 2020s, but fierce local opposition has blocked progress and none of the utilities have yet decided to proceed.

Both tenders were awarded with contracts to sell power at around 200 euros per MW. But since then, prices for offshore wind power have more than halved and French energy regulator CRE has criticized the high cost of the planned subsidies.

Les Echos said the draft legislation noted that since technological progress had led to a substantial drop in costs, the state might want to renegotiate terms. If that was not possible, it could cancel the projects and launch new tenders.

Wind industry officials had said at a conference this week on the French offshore wind sector that they feared the government wanted to renegotiate the tender terms, which they said would be a bad signal for investment in the industry.

France has huge coastlines and major potential for wind, but has not installed a single offshore wind turbine park, while Germany, Britain, Denmark and other European countries have built offshore wind parks with thousands of megawatts capacity.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Edmund Blair