United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Alstom prioritises local linkages

UNITED KINGDOM: Alstom, the French power-generation firm, is putting localisation of supply at the heart of its plans to build a manufacturing facility for its 6MW offshore turbine in the UK. However, the UK's electricity market review could influence how this develops.

Frederick Hendrick, Alstom's vice-president of offshore, said he expected the plant - likely to be built on the north-east coast of England - to create around 1,000 direct and 3,000 indirect jobs.

"The initial plan is to create a plant with three factories for nacelle assembly, generator assembly and blade manufacturing," added Hendrick. "This is something we'd like to do on the east coast of England. We're looking at locations in the north because of logistics and the location of the projects. But we're open to any solution.

"There needs to be a favourable market environment and for that to happen the electricity market review will drive the market size. That's a very important point."

Most offshore manufacturing plans require some form of government assistance, but Alstom appears to be fairly relaxed how far this should go. Vestas took a different approach when it recently announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding to build a factory at the port of Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey off England's south-east coast. The company said it had been forthright in stating the UK government needs the right policies and investment to make this happen.

Alstom's announcement regarding the port location is unlikely to be made until next year. However, it would appear Alstom is targeting all or part of the 9GW Dogger Bank project - part of the UK's third round of offshore wind development - being handled by a consortium including RWE Innogy and SSE. The other major round-three project in the area, Hornsea, is part-owned by Siemens, which is opening a factory in Hull.

Alstom has already met 200 prospective suppliers in the north of England. In doing so, it is possibly aware of the issues regarding the funding of the UK's extensive offshore plans and how much of this investment will end up overseas. This is most acute when it comes to the UK's 33GW Round 3 scheme.

Hendrick said the UK plans follow a similar operation in France. "We had a two-day workshop with 200 suppliers in France in April and we are going to have a supplier event in Bolton with 200 suppliers. The security of supply and a reliable company - that matters."

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