SGRE refines Le Havre factory plans

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) has applied for a building permit for a single factory at Le Havre, altering plans for two sites originally proposed.

SGRE will build a blade and nacelle factory similar to its site in Cuxhaven, Germany
SGRE will build a blade and nacelle factory similar to its site in Cuxhaven, Germany

The factory will produce blades, generators and nacelles for SGRE’s direct-drive 8MW turbine, with the first units destined for the St-Brieuc, Dieppe-Le Tréport and Yeu-Noirmoutier projects.

It is "an important step," said Filippo Cimitan, managing director of SGRE France, but "not the end of the road".

SGRE decided to submit the application largely because of "growing demand" for offshore turbines worldwide.

In addition, "we begin to have visibility on the French market, even if we would like more ambition", Cimitan said, referring to the recently released draft energy plan.

The original plan was for two separate factories, as put forward by Areva in France’s first offshore tender, when St-Brieuc was awarded to the Iberdrola-led consortium Ailes Marines in 2012.

Then Adwen — the turbine manufacturing joint venture between Areva and Gamesa — took over the turbine contract, before SGRE acquired Adwen, and the factory pledge, in 2017.

Despite the plans for two factories being merged into one, there will be no change in production levels or the number of jobs, SGRE said.

The factory should create around 750 industrial jobs, including those "created by direct suppliers, such as logistics, handling, and maritime logistics," the company explained.

That said, there is still a long way to go. Port and local authorities have to raise a further €23 million, out of €140 million, to prepare the site.

And, perhaps more importantly, Ailes Marines is still waiting for St-Brieuc to be free of legal challenges before it can give SGRE the notice to proceed.

"Nevertheless, we continue developing the project according to the calendar of our customers’ projects in order to be ready to deliver on time," SGRE said.

If all goes to plan, SGRE should start building the factory mid-2020, for completion by the end of 2021.

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