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France starts talks over 1GW Normandy offshore wind

Consultation also aims to set plans for future growth as nation ramps up ambitions at sea

France will start consulting over a new 1GW offshore wind zone off Normandy, and the future roadmap of its plans for growth in the sector over the next 10 years.

The French government said it will run a wide-ranging public debate under 15 May over the plans, unveiled last year as part of its increased 1GW annual growth ambition for wind at sea.

The project “could consist of 80, 12MW turbines, the most powerful to date”, said an official statement, in a nod to the GE Haliade-X, which is made by GE Renewable Energy in France. Future projects could use 15MW machines, it added.

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The Normandy project is the latest attempt by France to get momentum behind its offshore wind programme, which has stuttered compared to those of neighbours like the UK and Netherlands.

EDF won the last French tender for 600MW off Dunkirk, the result of which came earlier this year.

France’s earliest award of large-scale projects as long ago as 2012 became mired in regulatory delays and eventually had their rates revised down at the insistence of the government.

The first of those projects – the 480MW Saint-Nazaire offshore wind array – is due to enter service in 2022.

France is doing better with floating wind power, with a pilot turbine already in the water and plans well advanced for four pilots in the 25-30MW range. A first large-scale floating tender for 250MW is due in 2021.

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France aims to produce 40% of its power from renewables by 2040, with a 33% share of consumption by then.

"The development of renewable energies, especially at sea, is a major component of the diversification of our electricity mix. To lead this transition, identifying the areas of future offshore wind projects in a concerted way, well in advance of project implementation, is crucial,” said Élisabeth Borne, France’s minister for the ecological transition.

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