PARIS, France 7/10/12 (PennWell) -- European utility GDF Suez is exploring the feasibility of developing commercial-scale hydrokinetic energy plants by establishing two test sites off the coast of France.
GDF Suez says it is considering Raz Blanchard in Lower Normandy and the Passage du Fromveur off the Finistere coast in Brittany -- sites that contain 80% of France's tidal energy potential, according to the Paris-based company.
GDF Suez and its subsidiary Eole Generation will first install up to six of Voith Hydro's HyTide hydrokinetic turbines at Raz Blanchard by 2015. These units will provide up to 12 MW of generating capacity and will be used to establish the units' technical and economic viability. Ultimately, GDF Suez says it hopes to build a plant of around 100 turbines at the site.
The company also hopes to establish a second test site at the Passage du Fromveur by 2016. Eole Generation and tidal power engineering firm Sabella have already signed an agreement that gives GDF Suez access to Sabella's D10 marine turbine prototype.
GDF Suez is France's second largest hydropower producer with 3,800 MW of conventional capacity.