The French government has announced that a new call for tenders relating to offshore wind projects will soon be launched and the French Parliament may lighten the administrative constraints which hinder the construction of wind farms. However, these initiatives may prove insufficient to reach France’s objective regarding the development of wind energy, which should help it fulfil its commitment to increasing the share of renewable energy to 23 per cent by 2020 (as set by the Grenelle 1 law of 3 August 2009).
The call for tenders, which should be published at the Official Journal of the European Union in March 2013, relates to a 1,000 megawatt (MW) offshore wind project, with the construction of around 200 wind turbines in 2021 and 2023. Two sites have been selected for the project: Le Tréport (Haute-Normandie) and between the islands of Yeu and Noirmoutiers (Pays de la Loire). The Energy Regulator (Commission de régulation de l’énergie, CRE) will review the applications as from September 2013 and the selected candidates will be designated in January 2014. This call for tenders will complete the first call for tenders, launched in 2011, which will see the construction of four wind farms by EDF-Alstom (three farms) and Iberdrola-Areva (one farm), for an overall capacity of 2,000MW. The capacity of these two projects amounts only to half of France’s objective to achieve a total offshore wind capacity of 6,000MW by 2020.
France’s objective is to reach 19,000MW of offshore wind capacity by 2020; installed capacity currently amounts to 7,000MW. To help bring more projects forward, a new energy bill is currently being debated in the French Parliament. If adopted, it would remove some legal requirements applying to the construction of wind farms: to benefit from a power purchase agreement with Electricité de France (EDF), projects would no longer have to include five turbines as a minimum and to be located in “areas of development of wind energy” (zones de développement de l’éolien). Nevertheless, following a decision from the Supreme Administrative Court to seize the Court of Justice of the European Union on a state aid issue (C.E., 15 May 2012, Association Vent de Colère, No. 324852), uncertainty remains on feed-in tariffs for electricity from wind farms (which were fixed by the government).