As part of a French government strategy to encourage emergence of a domestic offshore wind supply chain, Areva and Alstom have made commitments to manufacture turbines in France for both domestic and export markets.
Alstom has begun to build nacelle and generator factories in Saint Nazaire for its Haliade 6MW machine, and preparatory work is under way at Cherbourg for the manufacture of blades and towers. Meanwhile, Areva will produce nacelles and blades for its 5MW turbine at Le Havre.
Both companies are building their supply chains, with Areva having recently hosted three suppliers' days at its German manufacturing base at Bremerhaven. "The objective of the supplier day is to show [companies] the reality of the technology and the industrial plan, so that they can understand the opportunities and what their company could provide," an Areva spokesperson told Windpower Offshore.
In the autumn, Areva plans more detailed, pre-selection discussions with potential suppliers. So far, it has signed letters of intent with 14 potential suppliers, including port operator Agence Maritime de l’Ouest (AMO), which has been pre-selected to bid for haulage and dock work. Areva expects to make its first French supplier selections in 2014.
One of the companies attending an open day at Bremerhaven was OET, an electrical engineering company interested in diversifying into the wind industry. Based near Rennes in Brittany, the company believes it is well placed to establish "partnerships with one or more major groups" in the wind sector, says sales director, Hervé Lucas. The company envisages initially supplying "command and control" systems. It already supplies Areva in other industrial sectors.
OET’s visit to Bremerhaven "was a very important moment," says Lucas. "It allowed us to visualise the enormity of the production site, with its manufacturing workshops, assembly and testing." The company was reassured to see use of technology with which its staff is already familiar. The company is in the midst of renovating its entire wiring workshop and circuit assembly, making it better suited for series production, adds Lucas.
Also based near Rennes, Yffiplast Composites is similarly interested in working with Areva, producing components such as nacelle housing and hub covers. Yffiplast is new to the wind energy sector, but president Franck Pautrot believes "the strong development of the offshore sector in Western Europe, and particularly along the coast of Great Britain and France, allows us to position ourselves within this growing market".
Yffiplast’s factory is close to Saint Brieuc and, thus, close to the 500MW offshore wind farm being developed by Iberdrola and Eole-RES, which will be powered by Areva turbines.
For Pautrot, Yffiplast’s visit to Bremerhaven helped the company understand Areva's approach and the infrastructure required for turbine assembly. More specifically, Yffiplast was able to evaluate the composites already in use and evaluate their compatibility with its own expertise. "We concluded that all the composite elements, except the blades, were achievable by Yffiplast," explains Pautrot.
In preparation, Yffiplast is investing in a digital machining center, which will cut components after molding or casting. Previously, pieces were cut by hand, but the new system is more reliable. Yffiplast is closely associated with the Institute of Technology at Saint Brieuc, through which it can access local government support for expansion and staff development.