Turbine production via Canada -- Made in France

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Bordeaux-based developer Valorem has signed a memorandum of understanding with Canadian turbine manufacturer AAER to build a nacelle assembly plant in the Gironde département of south-west France. The two companies will start their co-operation this month by establishing a joint venture to be called AAER SAS, owned two-thirds by AAER and one-third by Valorem.

As a first step, the venture will import into France AAER's A-2000 2 MW turbine, which AAER will start making in Canada this year under license from a European company it has yet to release the identity of. Under the agreement, AAER could deliver up to 13 turbines to Valorem in 2008. Then, if all goes to plan, the assembly plant will open early 2009. It will produce up to 50 nacelles a year and create about 70 direct jobs and 500 indirect. AAER already makes a smaller turbine in Canada on licence from German Fuhrländer (Windpower Monthly, May 2007.

The machines will be sold into the French, UK and Moroccan markets. "AAER was looking for a partner in France and we like the technology -- it's reliable," says Valorem's co-director, Pierre Girard. For its part, Valorem will provide the local knowledge and commercial foundation. AAER SAS may also consider making blades in future, taking advantage of local expertise in composites.

In a separate decision, Valorem is also broadening its business to include operating wind plant on its own account. Rather than developing projects solely for third parties, Valorem now wants a share of the bigger action. "Thanks to the guaranteed price, operating plant is a viable economic activity," says the company's president and founder, Jean-Yves Grandidier, referring to the premium purchase price paid for electricity generated from renewable sources in France. Valorem's target is to develop 300 MW by 2015.

To finance the new strategy, Valorem recently raised EUR 10.5 million through a share issue to three local institutional investors: Crédit Agricole Private Equity, Avenir Entreprises and Grand Sud Ouest Capital. Grandidier and Girard retain 60% of the company. Valorem has so far installed 51.29 MW in France, of which it owns 5.4 MW, and says it has 500 MW in development.

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