Sea tests begin for first unit of France's 8-MW Paimpol-Brehat tidal

Electricite de France (EDF) and Irish tidal power developer OpenHydro Group Ltd. announced the start of sea testing for the first unit of France's 8-MW Paimpol-Brehat tidal power project, on France's northern Brittany coast.

The companies said the first 2-MW OpenHydro unit was towed from the harbor at Brest August 31 for deployment in 35 meters of water on the seabed off the island of Brehat near Paimpol in Cotes-d'Armor.

The Paimpol-Brehat tidal farm project was initiated by EDF in 2004, with work beginning in 2008.

OpenHydro partner DCNS, a French builder of naval vessels and shipyard infrastructure, assembled the turbine and its subsea base at its Brest shipyard. The installation work utilizes a custom-designed barge, OpenHydro Triskell, built in France by STX (Lorient) under supervision of DCNS.

For two months, the 850-ton turbine and base will be tested. Testing is to prepare for actual installation in 2012 of the Paimpol-Brehat project, which has a budget of 40 million euros (US$56 million).

"We are delighted to be working with EDF on what is set to be the world's first large-scale, grid-connected tidal energy farm and France's first offshore tidal installation," OpenHydro Chief Executive James Ives said. "EDF's vision to develop this exciting project places France and EDF at the forefront of this new form of renewable energy generation."

OpenHydro, a designer and manufacturer of marine turbines, holds world rights to the Open-Centre Turbine technology. The company's commercial-scale test turbine is operating at the European Marine Energy Center in Orkney, Scotland.

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