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EDF, Enbridge inch closer with France's 1st offshore wind farm

French state-controlled utility Electricité de France SA and its Canadian partner, Enbridge Inc., confirmed their investments in what could be the first wind farm to begin operating off the coast of France.

Al Monaco, president and CEO of Calgary-headquartered Enbridge, announced on a call with analysts Aug. 2 that the two companies had made positive final investment decisions on the 480-MW Saint Nazaire offshore wind project, which is expected online in late 2022.

Saint Nazaire was one of three wind farms awarded to the EDF-led Eolien Maritime France SAS consortium in France's first offshore wind tender in 2012. Enbridge bought a 50% stake in the venture in mid-2016.

As the most advanced of the three projects, Saint Nazaire was given the final go-ahead by France's Conseil d'Etat on June 7 after seven years of permitting negotiations and appeals.

The wind farm is expected to cost C$1.8 billion, with Enbridge set to invest C$300 million of its own equity, Monaco said. The balance will come from EDF and third-party project financing.

Monaco said returns would be in the mid-teens. "But what we really like about it is that PPA comes with embedded protection for wind production variances. So you've got excellent transparency to cash flow, and this is actually a very unique PPA structure."

The Eolien Maritime France venture is developing a further 948 MW of offshore wind capacity in France from 2012's tender round — the Fécamp and Calvados projects — which are expected to make it to a final investment decision in 12 to 18 months, Monaco said.

The two partners, in a consortium that also includes Germany's innogy SE, also recently won the auction for the 600-MW Dunkirk wind farm in France with a winning price of €44/MWh.

EDF has developed offshore wind capacity in the U.K., Belgium and Denmark, while Enbridge owns an interest in an operating project in the U.K. and another under construction in Germany.