GDF Suez investigates French tidal potential

GDF Suez is studying the feasibility of two potential tidal projects located in France’s most powerful tidal waters, the company said today.

The French utility, through its subsidiary Eole Generation, wants to install and operate tidal stream devices at Raz Blanchard in Lower Normandy as well as the Passage du Fromveur off the Finistère coast in Brittany from 2015, in an effort to become a leading player in French marine energy.

A study is now underway to investigate the feasibility of installing a 3-12 MW pilot tidal plant at Raz Blanchard, France’s most powerful tidal site. The plans would see 3 to 6 of Voith Hydro’s HyTide tidal turbines installed in a pilot project to assess the viability of a full-scale plant.

“The plant is an indispensable step in confirming the technical and economic viability of the technologies,” GDF Suez said in a statement.

If the pilot is successful, GDF Suez would then consider constructing an industrial plant of around 100 turbines at the site.

Meanwhile, the company is also interested in building a second plant at the Passage du Fromveur, France’s second strongest tidal current, in 2016. Eole Generation has already signed an agreement with Sabella, a company specialising in tidal power engineering, allowing the GDF Suez subsidiary access to Sabella’s research on the Fromveur site and the data on its D10 marine turbine prototype.

Between them the sites contain 80% of the tidal current potential in France, which has Europe’s second largest marine energy potential, after the UK, while Raz Blanchard contains 50% of this resource alone.

Following the rapid growth of the wave and tidal sector in the UK, GDF Suez has been eyeing the possibility of marine renewables in France. The company has been involved with a number of projects overseas, including a study of the Wave Bob device in Portugal and the development of a device in north east Brazil, as well as the development of tidal current turbine in French Polynesia.

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