France becoming industry magnet

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A strong potential market in France has encouraged two leading German wind companies -- project developer Plambeck Neue Energien and wind turbine manufacturer RePower Systems -- to entered into partnership agreements to operate from local bases.

Plambeck has acquired 80% of French wind developer Ventura, based in Montpellier and Le Havre, and has scrapped plans to found its own French subsidiary. As part of the deal it secures five wind projects with a combined 40 MW already developed by Ventura together with engineering company Cedin, a French subsidiary of Belgian engineering company Westenwind. The projects are located in the coastal region of northern France and should be built in 2003 and 2004, according to Plambeck.

"Ventura already has the structure, market experience and contacts that we would have had to build up ourselves. Thanks to the years of experience of two Ventura directors, 13 good wind locations, including sites on the North Atlantic coast and in the river Rhone Delta, have already been secured with a combined potential of 160 MW," according to Plambeck, which is based in Cuxhaven. Ventura's Cedric de Saint-Jouan also welcomes Plambeck's experience in biomass and solar energies for which he sees strong potential in France in the future.

Meanwhile, RePower Systems has set up a joint venture with Belgian company Turbowinds -- Les Vents de France (LVDF). It will start making turbines in France towards the end of the year. A site for the factory has not yet been chosen. "Our market entry will be with the tried and tested MD 70 1.5 MW machine," says Fritz Vahrenholt of RePower Systems. It is this unit that Spain's Gamesa will also make and market (Windpower Monthly, January 2002).

Production of the turbine under licence by LVDF will build up to 200 MW a year. Until then machines will be supplied from RePower factories in Husum and Trampe in Germany. Within the next five years LVDF hopes to have 750 MW installed in France. Already it has inquiries for 90 turbines with a combined total of 135 MW.

RePower Systems, based in Hamburg, has 200 employees and has installed 600 wind turbines worldwide. Turbowinds, with production headquarters in Overiyse and marketing based in Hasselt, has developed several types of turbine operational software and been involved in installing 37 turbines in Belgium.

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