GDF SUEZ announces its tidal power ambitions for France

June 20, 2012

GDF SUEZ is studying the feasibility of two projects at the sites of France’s most powerful tidal currents: Raz Blanchard in Lower Normandy and the Passage du Fromveur off the Finistère coast in Brittany. These two sites alone contain 80% of the energy potential from marine current exploitation in France1. Through these two projects, GDF SUEZ wants to be able to install and operate tidal power production units at these two sites from 2015, and become a leading player in renewable marine energy.

Two favorable sites for competitive projects

Raz Blanchard (Lower Normandy):

As France’s strongest tidal current, this zone alone represents 50% of the national tidal power potential. The objective of GDF SUEZ at Raz Blanchard is to obtain approvals to install a pilot plant of 3 to 6 turbines representing power of 3 to 12 MW from 2015. GDF SUEZ and its subsidiary Eole Generation have already selected the HyTide turbine designed by the manufacturer Voith Hydro to equip all or part of this future pilot plant. The plant is an indispensable step in confirming the technical and economic viability of the technologies and in eventually constructing an industrial plant of around 100 turbines at this site.

The Passage du Fromveur (Brittany):

To the south of the island of Ouessant off the Finistère coast, the Passage du Fromveur is the site of France’s second strongest tidal current. GDF SUEZ wants to develop a tidal power plant here by 2016. An agreement was signed with Eole Generation and Sabella – a company specializing in tidal power engineering – allowing Eole Generation access to Sabella’s research on the Fromveur site and the data on its D10 marine turbine prototype.

Ambitions in renewable marine energies

Since 2009, GDF SUEZ has been committed to studying development opportunities in marine current power. The Group’s Research and Innovation Division, Eole Generation and Tractebel Engineering have been working on the study for these projects with the long term aim of making GDF SUEZ a key player in tidal power in France. This ambition is part of the approach of GDF SUEZ to developing renewable marine energies, illustrated in particular by the marine current projects in the United Kingdom and in French Polynesia2 and in wave energy conversion projects3 in Brazil and Portugal4.

Within the scope of these studies, Eole Generation has been appointed by the Group to develop the marine current power sites in France, ensuring the acceptability of the project and working with the fishermen and other stakeholders. GDF SUEZ and Eole Generation are therefore going to mobilize all parties involved in order to promote and to participate in the emergence of an industrial marine current energy sector in France that will benefit the economy and local employment (construction of sub-assemblies, assembly, installation, maintenance, etc.).

With nearly 10,000 MW of installed power capacity in France, of which nearly 50% is in renewable energies, GDF SUEZ has made renewables one of its major areas of development. The Group is a leader in onshore wind power in France with more than 1,000 MW in operation and is the second largest hydropower producer with 3,800 MW.

1 France has the second largest marine current power potential after the United Kingdom (source: Ifremer).
2 Projet Meygen by International Power and the Electricité De Tahiti project in the Tuamotu archipelago.
3 Using energy from waves.
4 Tractebel Energia project in Brazil and Standpoint project – Wavebob in Portugal.

GDF SUEZ develops its businesses around a model based on responsible growth to take up today’s major energy and environmental challenges: meeting energy needs, ensuring the security of supply, combating climate change and optimizing the use of resources. The Group provides highly efficient and innovative solutions to individuals, cities and businesses by relying on diversified gas-supply sources, flexible and low-emission power generation as well as unique expertise in four key sectors: liquefied natural gas, energy efficiency services, independent power production and environmental services. GDF SUEZ employs 218,900 people worldwide and achieved revenues of €90.7 billion in 2011. The Group is listed on the Brussels, Luxembourg and Paris stock exchanges and is represented in the main international indices: CAC 40, BEL 20, DJ Stoxx 50, DJ Euro Stoxx 50, Euronext 100, FTSE Eurotop 100, MSCI Europe, ASPI Eurozone and ECPI Ethical Index EMU.

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