The French government announced on Tuesday it will launch a tender next month to build 600 offshore wind turbines around the French coast at a cost of €10 billion ($12.7 billion).
The environment and energy ministry said the tender contracts would be for the installation of 3,000 megawatts (MW) of wind energy at around 10 different sites.
The first wind turbines resulting from this tender would not be expected to be up and running before 2015.
The government hopes to install a total of 6,000MW of offshore wind capacity by 2020, which would mean an investment of €15-20 billion.
The figures are based on costs of €3.5 million to build each megawatt of capacity.
According to the ministry, suitable zones are still being studied and no decision has been made about which will be included in the tenders. However, wind farms are expected to appear around the majority of the French coast from the waters of the Channel off Normandy to the seas of the Mediterranean in Languedoc-Roussillon.
The French offshore wind potential is one of the best in Europe, but the country currently boasts no offshore wind parks.
A previous offshore wind tender launched in 2004 by France was unsuccessful. There was only one successful bid, for 105MW, which is still held up in the planning process. The others were rejected for being too expensive or lacking local support.
By. Philippa Jones