The contract involves installing up to 10 tidal turbines at the Paimpol-Brehat (Cotes d’Armor) site, in north west France, from 2011. Although there may be as few as four turbines required, said edf, the utility is looking for the project to have a total installed capacity of 2MW-4MW.

OpenHydro was awarded the contract in competition with four other bidders.

EDF said the move is part of its strategic goal of achieving significant development in marine energy by 2020. The turbines to be supplied by Irish firm OpenHydro are to be removable for maintenance, and EDF plans to test a number of other technologies at the Paimpol-Brehat site, which has the most powerful tidal conditions in France.

Earlier this year, in announcing the plans for the tidal project, EDF had said it was anticipating to have three to six turbines at the site for the same possible range of total installed capacity. In terms of schedule, the earlier information indicated that the pilot plant could be ready by 2011.

The utility had spent more than four years in preparatory studies of potential sites in Brittany and Normandy. It is working with national research organisation IFREMER on the marine energy technology developments.

Earlier this year, OpenHydro became the first company to link a tidal turbine to, and generate power for, the UK national grid. Separately, it has also deployed a free-standing tidal turbine on the sea bed at the European Marine Energy Centre, in Orkney, Scotland.