Alstom and GDF Suez are hoping to build a pilot tidal power plant in France after signing a co-operation agreement.

The two companies say they will prepare a response to a call for expressions of interest announced by the French President, François Hollande, to build pilot projects near Cherbourg.

The plans are part of the French government’s strategy to boost renewable energy output and are an important step in the development of large, commercial tidal power plants.

GDF Suez and Alstom say that they will establish the various technical parameters to harness effectively the marine currents at the raz Blanchard site near the port of Cherbourg. They will also propose an operation and maintenance strategy for the pilot farm, as well as a roadmap to maximise the positive socio-economic benefits of this new activity throughout the region and the country.

Alstom is currently testing its 1 MW tidal turbine technology in Scottish waters and said in a statement that it would also sign an agreement with the Ports Normands Associés (PNA) that could allow it to use the Cherbourg port as a base for the raz Blanchard project.

The agreement with PNA would also enable Alstom to develop synergies with its two future offshore wind farm projects, says the firm.

It wants to perform final assembly of turbines and foundations and carry out all maintenance operations for the raz Blanchard project from Cherbourg, which has a development plan geared towards supporting offshore renewable energy industries.

Alstom says it could also support future offshore energy projects in UK waters from the Cherbourg site.