Joint venture to launch French tidal energy project

A collaboration has been launched to bring 2 GW of tidal energy to northern France.

The deal was signed in London yesterday between Hervé Morin, President of the Normandy Region, and Tim Cornelius, chief executive of renewables company SIMAC Atlantic Energy.

Together they have formed Normandie Hydrolienne which will build a tidal stream plant in Raz Blanchard that could eventually deliver around 2 GW of capacity to the Normandy region.

The pact will create a public-private partnership with funding coming via the French region’s economic development agency, AD Normandie and its investment fund, Normandie Participations. Under the terms of the deal, SIMEC Atlantis will hold a majority stake in Normandie Hydrolienne.

SIMEC Atlantis Energy, previously known as Atlantis Resources, will now start site development, permitting and consenting works. It will construct the project in phases, initially installing 20 x 2 MW tidal turbines. SIMEC intends to deploy its next generation tidal turbine, the AR2000, by the end of 2019.

Speaking to PEi, Tim Cornelius said: “The first phase will be completed in 2021 and we are waiting for government consent to expand the project to 200 MW by 2023, enough to power 250,000 homes.”

The turbine technology being deployed will be similar to that used in the company’s Maygen project in Scotland, however it will have improved features: “We will use a larger rotor size and all the turbines will be linked to an undersea DC substation,” said Cornelius. “There will be triple redundancy built in to reduce maintenance requirements.”

France has a feed-in tariff for tidal energy of €150 MWh but SIMAC believe that its scaled-up project could see costs being brought down to around €70 MWh. As a source of predictable firm and dispatchable power, the tidal array offers a valuable source of decarbonized energy to meet the requirements of the local power grid.

Speaking at the signing, Hervé Morin expressed his satisfaction in bringing this project to the region. He said that Normandy is one of the greatest energy regions in Europe, with extensive wind resources. He hinted that future energy development in the region may include the announcement of a second EPR nuclear reactor power plant as well as new renewable energy projects. Morin said that through AD Normandie and Normandie Participations, Normandy has decided to support a key player in the private sector.

Normandie Hydrolienne will begin hiring employees immediately and Cornelius praised the availability of skilled French engineers.  “Normandy has all of the attributes required to deliver large scale tidal power projects, including excellent natural resource in close proximity to load, available grid capacity, a feed-in-tariff, an established offshore energy supply chain and port facilities in Cherbourg and Le Have and access to EU funding. We hope this is the start of a long and profitable relationship”.

Since 2012, the Normandy region has been committed to pilot deployment and commercial use of marine power. It has invested greatly in Cherbourg Port and supported the creation of the Naval Energies/OpenHydro tidal-turbine plant in Cherbourg.

Through the French region’s economic development agency, AD Normandie and its investment fund, Normandie Participations, Normandy has decided to support a key player in the private sector. For several years, the SIMEC Atlantis Energy has been keen to develop a large-scale project in Alderney Race.

French renewable generation projects will feature at the POWERGEN Europe conference, being staged in Paris 12-14 November 2019, alongside European Utility Week.


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