France launches probe into 2012 tender for Saint-Brieuc offshore wind project
An offshore wind turbine at sea. Image source: Iberdrola (www.iberdrola.com)
France’s national financial prosecutor (PNF) is opening a preliminary investigation into conditions that led the promoter of the 496-MW Saint-Brieuc offshore wind project to win a tender to build the wind farm off the coast of Brittany, Agence France-Presse reported on Saturday.
The decision to start the probe follows a complaint filed in late August by a fishing association from the coastal Cotes-d'Armor department, the report states. The fishing group has been supporting a number of protests on land and at sea against the project saying that it damages the marine environment and hurts their profession.
The project to build the wind farm in the waters of the Bay of Saint-Brieuc was awarded to the Ailes Marines consortium in a tender in 2012. Today, Ailes Marines is wholly-owned by Spanish electric utility Iberdrola (BME:IBE), which bought out its consortium partners’ stake in early 2020.
Lawyers for the fishing group highlighted that Ailes Marines had been chosen by the French ministries for ecology and industry, while the energy regulatory commission CRE favoured the competing company.
In July 2019, France’s supreme administrative court Conseil d’Etat ruled that the tendering procedure had been irregular and ordered the state to compensate the aggrieved party, but still allowed the Saint-Brieuc project to move forward.
In May 2021, Dutch marine contractor Van Oord deployed its installation vessel to the site to start work on installing jacket foundations for the turbines.
Iberdrola has committed to investing EUR 2.4 billion (USD 2.78bn) in the Saint-Brieuc project. Located 16.3 kilometres (10.1 miles) off the coast of Brittany, the wind farm will feature 62 units of Siemens Gamesa 8-MW turbines installed across an area of 75 sq km (29 sq miles).
When up and running in 2023, the offshore wind complex is expected to generate around 1,820 GWh of electricity per year, or enough to meet the annual power demand of around 835,000 people.
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