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21 June 2018

France approves six new offshore wind farms, slashes subsidy

President Emmanuel Macron has given the go ahead to six new offshore wind farms off France’s west coast.

The combined clean energy projects have a capacity of 3,000 megawatts, enough to power hundreds of thousands of homes.

An agreement was reached this week with a group of major utility companies which will now take forward the projects: state-owned EDF, Spanish-based Iberdrola and Engie.

The wind farms, located off the coast of Normandy and Brittany, have met with public opposition which has delayed their final approval. Earlier this year, the French Government had threatened to cancel the projects; instead, it has cut the amount of public subsidy they will receive from 200 euros per megawatt hour to 150 euros.

“We will bring about renewable energy more quickly and less expensively: the projects are confirmed, their public subsidy is reduced by 40 percent”, said President Macron on Twitter.

France’s Environment Minister, Nicolas Hulot, also confirmed the lower tariffs, which are still significantly higher than other projects in Europe. Competitive auctions held in the UK last year saw offshore wind projects win contracts at an all-time low of £57.50 (65 euros).

The Netherlands also held its first subsidy-free offshore wind auction this year, although the government takes on more of the early development and risk.  

General Electric, one of the companies supplying wind turbines to the French projects, welcomed the news; a company statement said the wind farm’s confirmation is “paving the way for a buoyant offshore wind industry, which carries considerable potential for economic growth, job creation and high-tech innovation in France.”

Earlier this year, Macron’s administration also cleared the way for more onshore wind farms in the country. New proposals will accelerate the construction of projects with the aim of doubling capacity within five years. 

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