European Commission Approves State Funding for 1 GW French Offshore Wind Farm

The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, the subsidies that France plans to grant for an offshore wind farm in the Normandy region that could have up to 1,050 MW of installed capacity.

The state support will take the form of additional remuneration granted following a competitive call for tenders, based on transparent, objective and non-discriminatory criteria, and specific to offshore wind power, the European Commission said.

Back in December 2020, French government selected an area off Cotentin for the country’s eighth offshore wind farm and launched a competitive tender process in January 2021, with a plan to select a developer in 2022.

In April, France’s Commission de régulation de l’énergie (CRE) shortlisted six companies and consortia for the tender: Eoliennes en Mer Manche Normandie, a project company of EDF Renouvelable and Maple Power (a joint venture of Enbridge and CPPIB); Iberdrola Renovables France; Ocean Winds; Shell; a consortium formed by TotalEnergies and RWE; and a consortium of Vattenfall, wpd, and the Banque des Territoires.

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The selected candidates have entered a competitive dialogue procedure with the state bodies, with the designation of the winner in France’s fourth offshore wind tender scheduled for 2022, and the wind farm expected to be commissioned in 2028.

The offshore wind farm, which will have a capacity of between 1,000 to 1,050 MW is expected to produce 4.5 TWh of renewable electricity each year for at least 20 years, and save 1.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

The state funding now approved by the European Commission aims to help France achieve its objective of producing the equivalent of 33 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030 and will help achieve the European objective of carbon neutrality by 2050, according to the Commission.

“The Commission assessed this measure in the light of EU state aid rules, in particular the 2014 guidelines on state aid for environmental protection and energy (LDEE). The Commission noted that the aid will contribute to the French and European objectives of producing energy from renewable sources, in accordance with the objectives of the Green Deal for Europe and the European Climate Law, while the possible distortions of competition generated by state support will be minimized. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the measure complies with EU state aid rules”, the decision reads.

France is in the process of putting 8.75 GW of offshore wind capacity out to tender by 2028.

The country already has seven offshore wind projects in the pipeline, including the 600 MW Dunkirk tender held in 2019 and the six projects approved earlier. There are also four demonstration floating wind projects under development and an ongoing floating wind tender, France’s first, for which several companies and consortia were shortlisted this September.

In total, France will have up to around 12.4 GW of fixed-bottom and floating offshore wind capacity either in operation or under development by the end of 2028.