EU nods ‘yes’ for Raz Blanchard tidal energy demonstration

A 2MW OpenHydro tidal turbine installed in Canada in July 2018 (Photo: Cape Sharp Tidal)

The European Commission has found a French project promoting electricity generation from tidal energy – a 14MW Normandie Hydro array – to be in line with European Union State aid rules.

The measure will contribute further the EU’s energy and climate goals without unduly distorting competition in the single market, the Commission declared.

The Normandie Hydro plant is a demonstration plant that will be developed by OpenHydro and operated by EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN) and will be located at Raz Blanchard, west of the Cotentin peninsula, on the English Channel.

The demonstration plant will comprise seven turbines with a power generation capacity of 2MW each. They will have a rotor diameter of 16 meters and will be installed on the sea floor.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Tidal energy is one of the technologies that can contribute in the transition towards a climate friendly energy supply in Europe. The French project approved today will help showcase tidal energy technology, while limiting distortions of competition.”

According to the Commission, France intends to support the development and operation of the Raz Blanchard tidal energy demonstration plant.

The demonstration plant will receive operating aid and investment aid. Part of the investment aid will be paid in the form of repayable advances that will be reimbursed if the technology is successful.

The objective of the public support is to test this novel technology and verify the potential for tidal energy in France before deploying it on a larger scale. The project will facilitate the development of this type of energy and will help France meet its 2020 renewable energy target, said the Commission.

“The Commission assessed the scheme under its 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy, which allow Member States to support renewable energy, subject to certain conditions.

“The Commission found that the project promotes market penetration of a novel renewable energy technology and that the level of aid is proportionate and will not lead to overcompensation, in line with the Guidelines.

“Therefore the Commission concluded that the project will promote the use of electricity generated from renewable sources, in accordance with the objectives of the European Energy Union, without unduly distorting competition,”  the official statement reads.

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