The ports are located in north-west France near the Raz Blanchard, one of the world’s largest sites for tidal power, in the English Channel. The Ports of Normandy Authority (PNA), which owns the ports, plans to expand the facilities at Cherbourg by 35 hectares, at a cost of €60 million, in an effort to facilitate tidal projects and to attract tidal developers and equipment manufacturers to the site.
“The port of Cherbourg is ideally located for constructing, maintaining and running future tidal-energy farms thanks to its close proximity to the Raz Blanchard, located in the English Channel, which is known for its very strong currents, hence its high potential for tidal power,” said PNA in a statement.
“However, installing tidal-energy generators is only possible if the port of Cherbourg can be extended by 35 hectares, a significant physical development for the port.” The development will take place on the reclaimed land to the east and the north of Terre Plein des Flamands and Terre Plein des Mielles, extending the port into the outer harbour in the process.
The move comes after an extensive public consultation during the last part of last year, which yielded support for the expansion from the “vast majority” of participants, PNA said. Further consultation is due to take place this year, with construction work scheduled for 2014-2016.
Raz Blanchard could provide up to half of France’s tidal power, as well as energy to the Channel Island of Alderney, which is itself looking at the tidal potential in the area.
“There is no doubt that the French government and the Alderney authorities face many challenges in the implementation of their plan to harness ocean currents in order to produce energy,” PNA said. “PNA, however, is confident that the port of Cherbourg can establish itself as a major hub in marine renewable energy.” Elsewhere, much innovation is going into tidal power development worldwide however.
Earlier in 2012, EDF and multinational engineering company Alstom took the decision to locate their offshore-wind-turbine operations in Cherbourg.