Offshore wind power : without waiting for France, EDF displays its ambitions on the international

The wind turbines of 8.3 MW turbinier MHI-Vestas is to this day the most powerful installed in the sea. And five of them will begin to produce within a few days in the park experimental Blyth, that EDF has been awarded in 2014 by the Crown Estate, the body that manages the waters of the british Crown. In addition to the input levels of these turbines 200 metres high with blades of 164 metres long, EDF tests, a few hundred yards from Newcastle in the north east of England, foundations, gravity-fed and cables connection of a voltage two times higher than usual. The first can provide the foundation for a flotation before the fill sand which will bring their total weight of some 15,000 tons. This allows significant savings to be made by way of a ship special equipped with cranes huge for these parts of 60 meters high and a base of 31 metres in diameter. As for the second, it reduces the line losses and avoids the need to transform the low voltage into high voltage.

Rigidity of the French tenders

Thanks to these innovations, EDF will be able to sell the electricity produced by this plant of 41 MW at a price of approximately 145 £/MWh (160€). This is clearly more than the last auction won in September for the parks Hornsea 2 offshore of Yorkshire, and of Moray in Scotland, 57.50 £. But this is clearly less than the 180 € that the French government should purchase the production of the French parks assigned to EDF in 2012. If the company plans to use the foundations gravity tested at Blyth in Fécamp (Seine-Maritime), one of the sites that it has won at the first call for tenders, French 2012, it will not however change the model of wind turbines originally planned, and the case for the Haliade of Alstom, the manufacture of which has been taken over by General Electric.

This is a specificity of the French system : once tenders are awarded, ” no question of changing anything, even when this would result in lowering the price of the electricity produced.

EDF will participate in the third tender French (the second having led to the awarding in 2014 both parks in game Engie) in partnership with Enbridge. This canadian operator of oil and gas pipelines has already replaced the Danish Dong Energy (recently renamed Orsted) alongside EDF for the construction of the first three parks. Discussions are underway to finalize the terms and conditions of the specification, expected by the end of the year.

If the Court of Appeal of Nantes has just rejected a a week ago, EDF is still facing action on each of its three parks of Fécamp (Seine-Maritime), Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique) and Courseulles (Calvados), and expects to have to rely on the Council of State. Which are not concerned about as its chairman Antoine Cahuzac, but delays beautiful and well projects. Thus, the final decisions on investment will be taken in 2018, which excludes a parks service before 2012 or 2022.

Has the lookout for opportunities, of the United States to China

In this context, EDF does not intend to remain inactive pending completion of its French parks.

The company is not at his first attempt in the North Sea with the fleet of Blyth. The French had already developed the park Teesside (62 MW), operates in partnership the C-Power (325 MW) in Belgium, of which it owns 9%, and ensures the maintenance of the Bard in Germany, via the company OWS Off-shore Wind Solutions), acquired in July last.

And Antoine Cahuzac do not intend to stay there. His interest in offshore wind extends from the east coast of the United States-where several cities wish to replace the coal-fired power plants that feed from the energy of the sea winds – to the shores of southern China, are located near centres of consumption, in contrast to the wind farms land located in the north of the country. China has just put into service a wind farm at sea, giant of 300 MW. While recognizing that this massive market is difficult to penetrate for a foreign company, Antoine Cahuzac, recalls that the EDF group is already well established and that the EDF is used to working, in partnership, as she proves with Enbridge.

It must be said that the sector also offers prospects attractive. According to a study of american researchers from the Carnegie Institution for Science published this 9th of October, wind farms offshore floating installed in the North Atlantic could produce three times more than the firm land, and even cover up to three times the electricity needs of the world’s population. It was a question of floating wind turbine capable of working out of the great depths, since they do not require any foundation. These are the templates that are working today equipment manufacturers. Several experiments are carried out in France. EDF won a year ago a call for proposals for pilot farms in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Fos-sur-Mer. The France bet on this technology after having missed the train of the offshore wind posed with the redemption of Areva, Siemens and Alstom by General Electric, even if the latter has taken over the commitments of Alstom in the field of manufacturing sites in France.

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