Following the call for tenders for offshore wind energy launched in July 2011 by the French Government, Alstom (Paris:ALO) is planning to establish up to two sites dedicated to the production of components and to the assembly of 6 MW offshore wind turbines in the port areas of Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique) and Cherbourg (Manche). These two French sites would be for Alstom the first in the world entirely dedicated to offshore wind energy.
The dimensioning of the project will depend on the success in the call for tenders of the consortium led by EDF EN to which Alstom belongs. Alstom’s investments could reach 100 million Euros and generate up to 1,000 direct jobs and 4,000 indirect jobs.
If the consortium is selected at a level that ensures an industrial critical mass, Alstom plans to establish:
in Saint-Nazaire, the nacelles and generators manufacturing activities, to which would be added, still in Loire-Atlantique, Alstom’s offshore engineering centre.
in Cherbourg, the production of the blades, in partnership with LM Wind Power, as well as the towers manufacturing workshop, which would be set up by Alstom’s supplier, chosen subsequently.
"By locating in Saint-Nazaire and Cherbourg, Alstom would be sharing in the ambition of the consortium led by EDF EN and to which it belongs to create in France with its suppliers a long-lasting industrial and technological sector. We will be pleased to participate thus in regional planning through substantial investments and significant job creation, which are dependent of course on the success of our consortium, in this first call for tenders. The consortium will announce later the other investments planned as well as their localisation, for example assembly and service facilities," stresses Jérôme Pécresse, President of the Alstom Renewable Power Sector.
Following an in-depth consultation phase, Alstom chose these two large French ports on the basis of criteria that combined the quality of their infrastructures, the ease of access to the wind farm plants prescribed by the call for tenders, the mechanisms for support for investment established by the local authorities, and also the existence of industrial know-how and the ability to create a dense industrial network focused on offshore wind power.
In Saint-Nazaire as in Cherbourg, Alstom is going to benefit from the expertise already acquired and from a network of sub-contractors in these catchment areas of manpower in electro-mechanical engineering, machining of large parts, handling of heavy packages and knowledge of marine environments. A founder partner of the Jules Verne Technological Research Institute, Alstom has already located in Nantes its research and development activities in the marine energies field.
These industrial projects will allow the production of the "Haliade 150", the first new generation 6 MW offshore wind turbine, each unit of which will be capable of supplying the equivalent of approximately 5,000 homes with power. Alstom has relied on long experience to design this robust, simple and efficient offshore wind turbine. Its 73.50 metres (241 feet) blades will be the longest in the world and it will be equipped with a permanent magnet generator. This advanced technology is capable of facing up to the severe constraints of the maritime environment and ensuring a reliability as well as an efficiency that are sufficiently high to reduce the cost of the electricity generated.
This choice of the production sites falls within Alstom’s offshore technology development plan. The first prototype will be erected for an onshore test at the beginning of 2012 before the offshore installation of a second machine in the same year. The pre-serial production units are planned in 2013 with a view to serial production from 2014.
By José Santamarta, www.alstom.com/