French state-owned utility EDF's renewable energy unit has postponed the expected start of operations at its first offshore wind turbines by one year to 2021, it said on Tuesday.
A consortium of EDF and Alstom won a tender in 2012 to build three 500 megawatt (MW) wind parks with a total capacity of nearly 1,500 MW on France's Atlantic coast.
They were meant to go online in 2020, but legal challenges filed by anti-wind associations have delayed the project, the company said.
"We expect the offshore wind parks will become operational in 2021-2022," EDF Energies Nouvelles (EDF EN) Chief Executive Antoine Cahuzac told reporters.
Deputy CEO Beatrice Buffon said the company expected the courts to rule by mid-2017 on a complaint filed this year.
This would allow EDF EN to make a first investment decision by the end of 2017 or early 2018, as it will take a few months to finalise the park's financing with the banks.
Buffon said manufacturing on land would take about two years with another two years for installation and grid connection at sea.
She declined to specify the cost of the project but said the price would work out to between 100 and 200 euros per megawatt.
New offshore parks now being tendered in Europe often cost half that or less, but France has opted to build its own factories for the turbines with the hope of launching a French offshore wind industry.
"The first turbines will be in the sea by 2020, and the parks will go into operation between 2021 and 2022," Buffon said.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; editing by Ed Osmond)