GDF Suez wind turbine plan could create 6,000 jobs

Crédit : Michael Betts

French energy giant GDF Suez says its plan to build hundreds of wind turbines off France's Atlantic coast and in the English Channel would create 6,000 local jobs. 


The company is leading a consortium of bidders including Areva and Vinci for the contract to install 500 to 600 offshore turbines capable of producing up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity by 2015.

Some critics have slammed the plan for damaging views in the targeted areas, including at beaches in Normandy where Allied troops landed on D-Day and areas famed for inspiring Impressionist painters.

France, which produces 75 per cent of its electricity through nuclear energy, is investing 20 billion euros in wind power, with plans to build 1,200 offshore turbines capable of producing 6,000 megawatts by 2020.

The government has vowed to increase the share of renewable resources, including wind and solar, to 23 per cent of national production by 2020.

France, the world's most nuclear-dependent country, operates 58 atomic reactors.

But the country's reliance on nuclear power has been increasingly called into question since the Fukushima disaster in Japan, which prompted neighbouring Germany to announce plans to shut all of its reactors by the end of 2022.

Two other consortiums, led by French energy company EDF and Spain's Iberdrola, are also in the running for the tender, with the successful bid to be announced in the next few weeks.

The GDF consortium wants to create a construction base in the port at Le Havre, from where it will organise the building of the offshore turbine fields near Courseulles-sur-mer, Fecamp and Treport.

The base in Le Havre would include two Areva plants, one to build turbine blades and another for engine housings. A third factory, owned by Vinci, would build some of the foundations for the turbines.

Areva CEO Luc Oursel said the plants could eventually be used for exports as well, in particular to Britain.

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