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GDF Suez selected by French government for two 500MW offshore wind farms

French energy company GDF Suez has been selected by the French government to install and operate two 500 megawatt offshore wind farms, according to Reuters.

The projects, which are planned to be operational by 2021, will create up to 6,000 direct and indirect jobs, said a statement by GDF Suez. The company has won the contract in partnership with EDP Renewables, Neoen Marine and nuclear group AREVA.

"The success of these bids, presented with local players, supports the emergence of a French offshore wind power sector which will generate activity and jobs throughout the country and lay the foundations for international expansion," said the statement.

The wind farms will be created in the areas of Tréport in France's Upper Normandy region and the Isles of Yeu and Noirmoutier, in the Pays de la Loire region.

"This decision by the French government is actually an example of an equitable spread between GDF Suez/Areva on one side and EDF Energies Nouvelles/Dong/Alstom, on the other side, that have won the first public tender, in 2012, for a 2,000MW project," said Paris-based renewable energy expert Frédéric Ichay of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com.

The projects will employ the new AREVA 8 Megawatt wind turbine, which will offer increased productivity and a 40% reduction in the number of turbines required, according to GDF Suez. The new model turbine also offers shorter construction timescales, optimised maintenance and greater compatibility with fishing activity, said the company.

Research and development on the project will begin at a new centre in Rouen later this year.

GDF Suez said that a number of local businesses will be involved in the manufacturing and installation of the components for the farms, in particular in the regions of Poitou-Charentes, Pays de la Loire, Brittany, Upper Normandy, Lower Normandy, Picardy and Nord-Pas de Calais. The selection process for suppliers is due to start in 2015, and will include contracts for foundations, electrical sub-stations and installation and maintenance services for the wind farms.

Production of the  8 Megawatt AREVA wind turbines is expected to begin in Le Havre in 2018, with construction of the farms in both areas due to take place from 2019 - 2021.

The operation and maintenance of the Tréport wind farm will be undertaken out of the ports of Dieppe and Tréport, while that for the Isles of Yeu and Noirmoutier farm will be managed out of the ports of l’Herbaudière and Port-Joinville.

The awarding of the French project comes as it emerged that France was responsible for the third highest level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions among European Union member states in 2013.

According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, France produced 346 million tons of CO2 emissions (2-page PDF / ) in absolute terms, third behind the UK, which produced 455 million tons and Germany, the worst offender with a production of 760 million tons last year.

Eurostat estimates that in 2013 CO2 emissions decreased by 2.5% across the 28 EU member states compared with the previous year, after a fall of 1.6%1 in 2012.

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