The Rance Tidal Power Plant is the world's first tidal power station. The facility is located on the estuary of the Rance River, in Brittany, France. Opened on the 26th November 1966, it is currently operated by Électricité de France, and is the largest tidal power station in the world, in terms of installed capacity. With a peak rating of 240 Megawatts, generated by its 24 turbines, it supplies 0.012% of the power demand of France. The annual output is approximately 600 GWh. The barrage is 750 m (2,461 ft) long, from Brebis point in the west to Briantais point in the east. The power plant portion of the dam is 332.5 m (1,091 ft) long. The tidal basin measures 22.5 km2 (9 sq mi).

In spite of the high development cost of the project, the costs have now been recovered, and electricity production costs are lower than that of nuclear power generation (1.8c per kWh, versus 2.5c per kWh for nuclear).

Rance Tidal Power Plant Environmental impact

The barrage has caused progressive silting of the Rance ecosystem. Sand-eels and plaice have disappeared, though sea bass and cuttlefish have returned to the river. By definition, tides still flow in the estuary and the operators, EDF endeavours to adjust their level to minimize the biological impact.

Tourist attraction

The Rance Tidal Power Plant facility attracts approximately 200,000 visitors per year. A canal lock in the west end of the dam permits the passage of 16,000 vessels between the English Channel and the Rance. Departmental highway 168 crosses the dam and allows vehicles to travel between Dinard and Saint-Malo. There is a drawbridge where the road crosses the lock which may be raised to allow larger vessels to pass.

Rance Tidal Power Plant
Country France
Locale Brittany
Status Operational
Construction began 26 July 1963
Opening date 26 November 1966
Construction cost ₣620 million
Owner(s) Électricité de France
Dam and spillways
Type of dam Barrage
Length 700 m (2,300 ft)
Tidal range 8 m (26 ft)
Power station
Type Tidal barrage
Turbines 24
Installed capacity 240 MW
Annual generation 600 GWh