SIMEC Atlantis gets busy in Normandy

SIMEC Atlantis Energy and the French region of Normandy have agreed to create a joint venture to develop a multi hundred-megawatt tidal stream project in Raz Blanchard in France.

Tim Cornelius, CEO of SIMEC Atlantis; and Herve Morin, President of the Normandy Region (Photo: AD Normandie)

The joint venture, called Normandie Hydrolienne, marks the first step towards the full development of Normandy’s tidal energy potential.

Representing a ‘gate’ for SIMEC Atlantis’ entry to the French market, the joint venture will receive investment from the regional agency for economic development AD Normandie through Normandie Participations, and will be majority owned by SIMEC Atlantis.

Normandie Hydrolienne has been established with the intention of eventually harnessing up to 2GW of power from the Alderney Race, the eight-mile strait that runs between Alderney and La Hague, France, as well as more than 1GW of resource from adjacent concessions under the control of the States of Alderney.

A detailed work will have to be carried out with the state services in order to obtain the appropriate authorizations for all industrial installations, according to the Normandy region, while the Europe’s largest planned tidal power plant could begin construction in 2021.

The administrator for all required consents for deployment, operation and construction for tidal power in France is ADEME, while all required consents for deployment, operation and construction for tidal power in Alderney falls under the Alderney Commission jurisdiction.

The demonstration array in Raz Blanchard is planned to be equipped with SEIMEC Atlantis’ new AR2000, 2MW-rated, tidal turbines, the company said.

Tim Cornelius, CEO of SIMEC Atlantis, said: “Raz Blanchard is sitting on a huge amount of renewable, predictable energy and we wish to bring our project development, financing and power production expertise to help the region of Normandie create jobs and attract a substantial amount of investment into the Region.

“Our techno-economic feasibility study plans for the delivery of an initial 1GW of operational capacity by 2025, which could be quickly expanded to 2GW by 2027, at a Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) competitive with offshore wind farms currently in construction in France.

“Raz Blanchard will be delivered in stages to allow the supply chain to grow in line with our expansion plans. We look forward to working with ADEME, RTE, AD Normandy and Normandie Participations to make tidal energy a reality in Normandy.”

Hervé Morin, Président de la Région Normandie, added: “The Region of Normandie is blessed with huge tidal resource and has always been supporting the tidal industry, through investments on the port of Cherbourg, on R&D activities, and by facilitating the link between the training sector, the industry and the local supply chain.

“We have spent a lot of time, energy and money to foster the development of a clean, predictable energy that we believe is an amazing opportunity for our region.

“It is time for Normandie to become a pioneer in seeking to economically exploit this abundant source of energy and to once again show its commitment to the deployment of blue energy solutions. SIMEC Atlantis has an unparalleled record of delivering tidal energy projects and we look forward to making use of their experience to bring investment, collaboration and job creation to the region.”

SIMEC Atlantis has been actively pursuing an opportunity to develop a reference site on the coast of Normandy, and has in in April 2018 submitted a strategic plan to the French government setting out plans to deliver 1GW of tidal power by 2025 at the Raz Blanchard, located off the Normandy region.

At the time, SIMEC Atlantis also sought the assistance of the French government to facilitate the investment in the region’s local supply chain and maritime infrastructure.

“Atlantis’ plans for the French territorial waters will require the development a strong local supply chain to fabricate turbines and perform offshore construction activities,” the company said in April.

SIMEC Atlantis’ AR1500 turbine used in the MeyGen tidal project (Photo: SIMEC Atlantis)

It also said it would be willing to engage in discussions with the French government to save the Cherbourg tidal assembly plant, and deliver the EU-sanctioned Normandie Hydro tidal project within existing support mechanisms.

Both the Cherbourg plant and the Normandie Hydro tidal project sank into uncertainty as the company behind the schemes – Naval Energies – decided to stop further investments into development of its tidal energy business back in July.

The decision translated to the liquidation Naval Energies’ tidal technology subsidiary OpenHydro, which was to supply turbines for the Normandie Hydro tidal array scheme that were to be assembled in the Cherbourg plant.

Following the announcements,  SIMEC Atlantis’ Chief Executive hinted the company was prepared to act as a replacement for the liquidated outfit should the UK-based developer make progress in discussions with the French government.