A consortium led by the renewables unit of French utility EDF has won the tender for close to 600MW of offshore wind in the Dunkirk development zone off northwest France.

The group, which also includes utilities Enbridge and Innogy, won with a bid of less than €50 ($56.35) per megawatt hour, François de Rugy, France’s energy minister, said.

De Rugy didn't specify the price of the winning bid further, while EDF Renewables refused to reveal it when asked by Recharge.

EDF said it will now refer the project at more than 10km off the Dunkirk coast to France’s national public debate commission during the next few months, and expects it to enter service in 2026.

"With the awarding of the Dunkirk project, EDF is one of the leaders in offshore wind power in Europe," EDF chairman Jean-Bernard Lévy said. The company with Dunkirk has boosted its offshore wind portfolio in France to more than 2GW.

"Our winning bid was highly competitive, and this has notably prompted the government to double the offshore wind power targets contained in its multi-year energy plan, giving new development opportunities for EDF and all participants in the sector.”

The low price at the Dunkirk tender will indeed result in France raising its offshore wind ambitions.

France will double its offshore wind tender schedule to 1GW annually after bids in the latest round confirmed steep cost reductions in the sector, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said yesterday, and ambition confirmed today by François de Rugy, France’s minister for ecologic and solidary transition.

Europe-wide lobby group WindEurope stressed the news from the Dunkirk tender came shortly after the results of the latest onshore wind tender in France, helping to revive the prospects for wind energy in France more broadly.

“Things are starting to look more positive for wind energy in France again with the results from the Dunkirk offshore auction and the latest onshore tender," WindEurope chief executive Giles Dickson said.

"The Dunkirk results are excellent news for offshore wind in France and are further proof that offshore wind is a competitive and mature energy source."

FEE welcomed the outcome as a "demonstration of a competitive project anchored in France".

"Wind power at sea opens up new horizons for France: through the creation of new jobs and even more so through the convergence of know-how and trades; and through the transition of jobs," FEE president Olivier Perot said.

"Inexhaustible, clean, safe, predictable, and more than ever competitive – in this context, the government confirms that wind power is a major asset for France, its future and the security of supply of its electricity network."

De Rugy made the announcement at the official launch of construction at another French offshore wind farm, the 480MW Saint Nazaire project off France's Atlantic coast, which will be built by the Eolien Maritime France (EMF) consortium led by EDF that also includes Enbridge.

Saint Nazaire is the result of a 2012 first round of French offshore tenders. The project had been held up by lengthy administrative and court hurdles, but was finally cleared for construction by France’s supreme court in administrative matters earlier this month.

"Today here in Saint-Nazaire, we are speeding up the deployment of wind turbines at sea in France," de Rugy said on Twitter.

"Until 2022, 80 turbines installed off this coast will produce 20% of the Loire-Atlantic region."

UPDATED to add comment by EDF