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European Commission - Press release

State aid: Commission authorises French support for renewable tidal energy demonstration plant at Raz Blanchard

Brussels, 27 July 2016

The European Commission has found French plans to support a tidal energy plant to be in line with EU state aid rules. The measure will promote the production of electricity from renewable sources, in line with EU energy and climate goals, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.

The NEPTHYD (Normandie Energie PiloTe HYDrolien) tidal energy pilot farm will be located at Raz Blanchard, west of the Cotentin peninsula, in the English Channel. A subsidiary of the Engie group, selected by means of a tender procedure, will build and operate the plant for 20 years. It will be connected to the national power grid and serve as a demonstration plant to validate this developing technology. Tidal energy is a form of hydropower that convertsenergy obtained through tides into electricity. The technology offers significant benefits since it uses a predictable source of renewable energy.

The pilot plant will be composed of four turbines with nominal power of 1.4 megawatt (MW) each. Those turbines present several innovative features that are expected to significantly increase the performances of tidal farms, including rotating nacelles, variable pitch blades and submerged power electronics.

France plans to support the construction of the plant, through a direct grant and repayable advances, which will be reimbursed if the technology proves successful. Moreover, each unit of energy produced will receive a feed-in tariff.

The Commission's 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy allow Member States to grant state aid for renewable energy, subject to certain conditions. These rules are aimed at reaching the EU's ambitious energy and climate targets at the least possible cost for taxpayers and without undue distortions of competition in the Single Market.

The Commission found that the project supports market entry of a novel renewable energy technology, in line with the Guidelines. Moreover, the aid will be limited to the cost of producing electricity from such a plant. This will ensure that the operator is not overcompensated. The Commission therefore concluded that the project will promote the use of electricity generated from renewable sources, while limiting the distortions of competition triggered by the public funding.

Background

For more information on the 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy, see also the Commission's Policy brief on "Improving State Aid for Energy and the Environment".

More information on today's decisions will be available, once potential confidentiality issues have been resolved, in the State aid register on the competition website under the case number SA.42838. The State Aid Weekly e-News lists new publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the EU Official Journal.

IP/16/2654


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