The French government is "thinking about launching a third offshore tender", French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Monday during the groundbreaking ceremony for Alstom's new factories at St-Nazaire. He gave no indication as to the possible timing.
The industry welcomed Ayrault's announcement, calling on the government to act quickly in order to speed up offshore deployment and give the sector long-term visibility.
The government is targeting 6GW of offshore wind in 2020. It has so far awarded 2GW in a first tender call last year, and recently announced a second tender for 1GW of capacity.
The second tender will officially be launched once the tender terms have been finalised, which is slated for March. The results should be announced early 2014, with construction and commissioning in 2021-23.
While the broad regulatory framework for offshore wind now exists, the main issue will be to identify suitable zones, Frédéric Lanoë, communications director of the French wind energy association, FEE, told Windpower Offshore.
Based on what happened in the first tender, this could take around six months, Lanoë added. There is no sign so far that the government has started to identify new zones. It is doubtful that decisions can be made before the ongoing national energy debate concludes this autumn.
In the meantime, the industry is keen that the third tender includes a greater number of zones and a larger capacity in order to make up for lost time and introduce more competition.