Areva boosts French supply chain

Le Havre to host nacelle and blade factories

French energy giant Areva has opened its first office in the port city of Le Havre as part of its plan to produce a "100% French wind turbine".

The company will build two factories at Le Havre to produce nacelles and blades for its 5MW machine, which uses the Multibrid design drawn up by German wind specialist Aerodyn.

Site preparation is planned for 2014, with construction of the factories to start the following year. The company currently manufactures its turbines in Bremerhaven, Germany.

In the first instance, the Le Havre factories will supply 100 5MW turbines to a project at St-Brieuc, off the north coast of Brittany. The project was awarded to a consortium headed by Spain's Iberdrola and local developer-operator Eole-RES as part of a 3GW offshore tender in April 2012. Part of the deal is that successful bidders establish a local industrial base.

Areva has already signed up suppliers of key components, including French bearing maker NTN-SNR, blade and nacelle housing manufacturer Plastinov, and metallurgist Fouré Lagadec, alongside Finnish gearbox manufacturer Moventas and engineering giant ABB. All are ready to set up activities in Le Havre, creating a "genuine industrial ecosystem" employing more than 750 people, Areva said.

Further plans include establishing partnerships with small-to-medium-sized businesses in the Normandy and Brittany regions and setting up a research and development unit at Le Havre. STX will manufacture the jacket foundations in St-Nazaire, while Technip will install the cables, foundations and turbines.

Areva will hope to win more contracts in the second offshore tender, due to be launched by the end of the year, and also to pick up export orders in order to keep the factories humming.