West Normandy Marine Energy, a conglomeration backed by the regional council and set up to create an industrial sector based on marine renewable energy, has been discussing options with officials in Alderney to harness the tidal energy between the island and the coast of France.
â€˜There is a very strong current between Normandy and Alderney that has the possibility of generating about six gigawatts of energy,â€™ said West Normandy Marine Energy managing director FranÃ§ois Piquet.
Tidal developer Alderney Renewable Energy (ARE) is already developing over three gigawatts of tidal power eight miles from France with generation due to start later this year and the full scale deployment of a 300 megawatt project reaching completion within five years.
It is thought that enough power could be harnessed for more than three million homes. The eventual plan is to install a cable link to the UK, so Alderney and France can sell any electricity generated to the British mainland.
ARE has signed an agreement with the French industrial group DCNS for the development of tidal arrays in Alderney’s waters and with its partner, Transmission Capital (TCL), is has an agreement with French grid operator RTE (RÃ©seau de Transport d’Ã‰lectricitÃ©) to work on the development of the cable link.
Mr Piquet said that the joint production works well for France and Alderney as the island canâ€™t develop the energy without the facilities provided by the port of Cherbourg and likewise it isnâ€™t possible for Normandy to develop this potential without Alderney. â€˜We both have interests in developing this partnership,â€™ he confirmed.
Normandy is at the heart of Franceâ€™s renewable energy programme with public meetings currently taking place over a planned sea wind farm off the coast of the D-Day beaches and another planned off the coast of Fecamp. There are also several options to harness tidal energy.
â€˜Lower Normandy has always looked to the sea to develop its future. With a strong tradition of maritime expertise, the regionâ€™s organisations, companies and laboratories are responding to the worldâ€™s energy challenges,â€™ explained Mr Piquet.
Officials pointed out that the off the coast of Normandy is the strongest current in Europe, the Raz Blanchard that follows the coast from La Hague near Cherbourg. It is regarded as having the capacity to produce half of Franceâ€™s potential hydrokinetic power requirements.
Port facilities are being created at both Cherbourg and Ouistreham to create two locations for industrial input into the renewable energy schemes.
â€˜Normandy is home to all the activities required to develop renewable marine energies. Whether this be metallurgy, soldering, painting, electricity, inspections, civil engineering, etc. Our sub contracting companies have all the skills required,â€™ said Gilles Lecomte, president of SOTRABAN, the West Normandy sub contractors association.