On the 15th of July 2008, EDF announced its decision to build the first tidal turbine demonstration farm in France to produce electricity from the energy of tidal currents. Between 2011 and 2012, a few turbines representing several MW will be installed and connected to the grid off Paimpol-Bréhat (Brittany).
EDF R&D has been developing the Telemac-2D software. Over the past twenty years, that allows to model and simulate river and coastal hydrodynamic phenomena. At the Paimpol-Bréhat site, it is used to calculate tidal current characteristics and to assess the tidal energy yield potential produced by turbines exploiting such currents.
The zone where the farm is to be built is characterised with respect to tidal current potential. Data comes from a numerical Telemac-2D model of the Paimpol-Bréhat zone and current measurements from ADCP deployed at sea in 2005 and 2008. The use of realistic data taken from a site appears to be among the crucial technical parameters for site selection and the optimal positioning of the devices within the array.
Different methodologies for tidal resource assessment are described and compared. In particular, the respective strengths and weaknesses of some farm methods used in the Paimpol-Bréhat site study are discussed on the basis of a theoretical nine-turbine farm.