The results of the French government’s latest onshore wind tender were worse than expected, with just 25% of the available 500 MW capacity auctioned off.
The relative failure of the undersubscribed tender was blamed on delays in the permit process that prevented large numbers of projects being put out to tender.
In May 2017, Paris launched plans to tender up to 3,000 MW onshore wind capacity by June 2020 - in six bi-annual bidding rounds of 500 MW - as part of a national renewable energy procurement plan.
In the first round, bids totalling 908 MW were received and 22 projects with a combined capacity of 508 MW were awarded.
When the bids closed this time, however, the government had only received applications from nine eligible projects, with a combined capacity of just 216 MW. A tenth project was also entered, but later ruled out as ineligible for tender.
Of those projects, just five - with a total capacity of 118 MW – were awarded to four developers.
The Canadian renewable energy company Boralex will build two wind farms: a 35.35-MW scheme in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region and a 14-MW plant in Hauts-de-France.
Belgium’s Elicio won the right to construct a 31.05-MW wind farm, also in Hauts-de-France.
UK-headquartered Renewable Energy Systems (RES) will go ahead with its 24-MW project located in Occitanie.
The only home-grown winner was Engie, which won capacity for a 13.8-MW project in Grand-Est through its renewable energy arm Engie Green.
As a condition of the tender, all the successful wind farms must be constructed and commissioned by before September 2021. The average tariff of the winning projects was not made public.
The main reason that the tender was undersubscribed was that having permits in place had been a requirement for bidding, and this excluded many potential candidates.
Some estimates suggest that more than 3,000 MW of French wind farms currently in development have been unable to secure environmental permits following a court ruling late last year that complicated the permitting processes.
It is thought that as many as 2,000 MW of projects could be at risk of being cancelled as a result.
The next 500-MW tender is scheduled for April 2019.