France is about to enter the tidal energy market in a big way. French utility company EDF and tidal energy technology company OpenHydro have announced that the first of four 2-megawatt (MW) tidal turbines to be installed off the coast of Paimpol-Bréhat in Brittany has been assembled, and is ready to be tested at the project site. Once the project is completed, in 2012, it will generate enough electricity to power 4,000 French homes. According to Silicon Republic, the project will be the world’s first large-scale grid-tied tidal power array.
The turbine assembly consists of a 52.5-foot-wide tidal turbine and its subsea base, which holds the turbine in position on the seabed. The assembly has a combined weight of 850 tons and a height of over 72 feet. The project is unique in that none of the components is visible from the surface.
On August 31, the first turbine assembly was towed to the installation site off the island of Bréhat, near Paimpol in Côtes-d’Armor. It will now be installed using a custom-designed installation barge at a depth of 115 feet, where it will undergo a series of tests prior to commissioning.
The €40 million Paimpol-Bréhat tidal farm project was initiated by EDF in 2004, and work began in 2008 with the support of local stakeholders. EDF is the largest electricity producer in Europe, with a portfolio consisting predominately of nuclear power plants. OpenHydro is an Irish tidal energy technology company with a portfolio spanning the United States, Canada, France, Scotland and the U.K.’s Channel Islands.