Alstom UK offshore search hampered by unsuitable sites

UK: Alstom’s search for an offshore manufacturing and assembly base on the east coast of England is providing the company with a challenge.

Alstom plans to target its 6MW turbine at Round 3

The company revealed earlier this year, it was looking for a port to facilitate its 6MW offshore turbine.

Speaking to Windpower Monthly in August Alstom vice-president offshore, Frederick Hendrick said the company wanted to build a plant to assemble turbines, build generators and blades. He said the announcement on the location would not be before the end of the year.

However, Edward Rae, global sourcing VP at Alstom Wind Power said the search was proving a challenge.

Rae said: "This is absolutely critical. Focusing on the UK, there aren’t that many ready-to-use port sites for somebody like ourselves that want to set up an industrial footprint, capable of dealing with towers, blades and generators.

"There are not many readily available sites where you can just turn up with a truck and then put up a plant and begin manufacturing."

Rae said there was a lot of preparation work to be done. The company has been looking at different sites on the east coast of the UK and "there aren’t that many options which don’t require significant investment".

Speaking of government support for ports, Rae said: "The £60 million of port assistance that the UK government has put forward and the similar sum from the Scottish government, while extremely welcome, is a drop in the ocean.

"Therefore we are forced to look at our own numbers very carefully to understand the economics of setting up a proper industrial base for supporting UK offshore wind. The capital expenditure is pretty daunting."

Rae will be exploring the ports challenge further when he speaks at an industry Port Infrastructure Development meeting in London next month.