France announces tidal tender winners as Siemens leaves sector

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has announced the winners of a tender for pilot tidal energy farms in the country’s West Normandy region.

The two winning projects are a 17 MW array featuring OpenHydro tidal turbines, to be built by a consortium including EDF and French naval defence and energy firm DCNS, and an 8.4 MW array using six 1.4 MW turbines from Alstom, to be built in collaboration with GDF Suez. Both projects will be located in the Cotentin region, which boasts a sizeable tidal resource.

Sian George, chief executive of trade association Ocean Energy Europe, commented: “Following the Meygen project in Scotland reaching financial close, today’s announcement is further proof that Europe continues to move forward in creating an ocean energy industry. The challenges involved are not insignificant, but France is demonstrating leadership by providing support for the sector to demonstrate pilot arrays. We look forward to seeing other [EU] Member States following France’s lead.”

The announcement comes on the heels of Siemens’ decision to leave the tidal energy sector with the sale of its subsidiary Marine Current Turbines (MCT), which it has owned since 2012. Siemens said the sector’s market and supply chain development have taken longer than expected, and while it believes the industry will develop in future, for now its “limited resources” make it a non-viable niche market.

In August Bloomberg New Energy Finance revised its 2020 capacity forecast for the tidal power sector downward by 11 per cent, to 148 MW. The analysis firm echoed Siemens’ concerns, citing the unexpectedly long development period for tidal technologies and greater-than-anticipated costs.

In other European tidal energy news this week, Spanish firm Magallanes Renovables (MRSL) deployed its $1.2m prototype floating turbine in sea trials at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Scotland, while UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey called tidal energy “a huge opportunity for Britain” and announced plans for a “world first” £850m ($1330m) tidal lagoon energy project.

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