Analysis: Areva and Gamesa to form offshore JV

EUROPE: Gamesa and Areva have confirmed that they are in "advanced talks" over the formation of a 50/50 joint venture covering the development and sale of offshore turbines.

The collaboration would cover Areva's 5MW offshore turbine, and would have the two parties working on the development of an 8MW machine.

Significantly, Gamesa's 5MW turbine is not included in the deal. The manufacturer will continue to build the turbine, but it will now be marketed solely for onshore use.

However, the joint venture would work on an "enhanced" 5MW turbine based on Gamesa's technology. Notably, the Gamesa machine's lower top head mass means it could be installed in up to 35-metres of water using a monopile foundation. The company said this would provide a point of difference for the machine.

Both companies have previously said that they are working on offshore wind turbines around the 8MW mark. In November, Areva announced plans to build an 8MW turbine, which it expected to prototype in 2015. Serial production was set for 2018.

Gamesa has been planning a 7-8MW turbine since 2010, although most of its offshore efforts have been spent developing the 5MW machine.

In October, executive chairman Ignacio Martín said the company was working on a 7-8MW, with a prototype due in 2017. Little is known about the turbine, although Gamesa is believed to be designing segemented blades.

A spokesperson for Gamesa said that the companies will collaborate on all elements of the new turbine development.

However, Areva will transfer ownership of its turbine assembly plant in Bremerhaven, Germany, and blade factory in nearby Stade to the venture, as well as offshore wind technology and commercial contracts. Additionally, the joint venture will enter into a preferred supplier agreement with Gamesa for some "key components".

Gamesa will provide its existing multi-megawatt technologies applicable to offshore, as well as offshore-related engineering, operation and maintenance capabilities.

There was no update on plans to manufacture in the UK. In 2012, Gamesa signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a manufacturing hub in the Scottish port of Leith, while Areva is also believed to be looking into building an offshore assembly facility in Scotland.

Interestingly, the JV will not include the turbine Areva factories being developed in Normandy. Areva has been cutting staff at Bremerhaven, with 160 set to leave this month. This will leave only around 100 at the plant.

The announcement follows a similar deal between Mitsubishi and Vestas. However, in this case the both companies pooled all of their offshore resources into the joint venture.

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