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France mulls offshore rethink

Round 1 and 2 projects could be cancelled or subsidies renegotiated

France mulls offshore rethink image

France is paving the way to renegotiate subsidies for the country's first offshore wind farms or even cancel the projects, which were awarded in the Round 1 and 2 tenders in 2012 and 2014.

The proposals, first reported in the subscriber-only newsletter reNEWS, are included in draft legislation currently under discussion in the French parliament that could allow the government to offer already permitted offshore wind projects in future tenders.

The amended legislation states that “in certain cases, especially when technical progress allows for considerable cost reductions, the government could renegotiate the conditions under which the bids were awarded”.

It adds that “if a renegotiation of the contracts isn't possible, one option could be to cancel the project and launch a new (bidding) procedure”.

The law will be discussed in the French Senate this week and could come into force in the coming weeks.

The six Round 1 and 2 projects are currently set to receive subsidies of between €180 and €230 a megawatt-hour, including grid connection. However, several European countries, such as the Netherlands, have recently started to organise zero-subsidy offshore tenders.

The EMF consortium is develoing the 480MW Saint-Nazaire project, as well as the 450MW Courseulles and 498MW Fécamp wind farms in cooperation with WPD, while the Iberdrola-led Ailes Marines group is constructing the 496MW Saint-Brieuc scheme.

All four projects are scheduled to be up and running in 2023.

The Engie-led LEM consortium is developing the 496MW offshore Noirmoutier and Tréport wind farms, which are planned to come online in 2024.

French industry association SER called the renegotation proposals a “disastrous signal, without precedent”.

SER said it would oppose the plans, which in the future could be extended to other renewables sectors.

“The government is aiming to introduce a rule that would completely annihilate investor and market confidence,” said SER president Jean-Louis Bal said.

“We call upon the government to withdraw its proposal in order to make sure that France remains a country where investment decisions can't be called into question from one day to the other,” he added.

Image: reNEWS

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