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Construction starts on 6MW offshore wind turbine factories in France

French firm Alstom launches construction of the first two of four Haliade turbine plants

The turbine factories will be a big contributor to developing French offshore wind power

Work has started to construct a series of factories to build 6MW offshore wind turbines in France. The French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, in Saint-Nazaire, officially launched construction works of firm Alstom’s first two offshore wind turbine factories on Monday this week. Two more plants in Cherbourg, intended for the production of blades and towers for the company’s 6MW turbine, will complete this industrial scheme in 2015.

The Saint-Nazaire plants will be entirely devoted to assembling nacelles and manufacturing generators for the French firm’s 6MW Haliade 150 offshore wind turbine. The two industrial buildings will be built next to each other and will cover approximately 2.5 hectares on about 14 hectares of land located in Montoir-de-Bretagne, within the harbour zone of Saint-Nazaire. They will be scaled for a production capacity of 100 machines per year.

Alstom said it is laying the foundations of a “French industrial cluster” which will ultimately create close to 7,000 jobs. The plants, which represent the emergence of the cluster, are expected to be commissioned in 2014.

Alstom will deliver the 240 Haliade 150 units to be deployed at the Courseulles-sur-Mer, Fécamp and Saint-Nazaire wind farms starting in 2016. After a 30-year period without inaugurating a factory inside France, the group is committed to creating about 1,000 direct jobs in the country in the marine renewable energy sector.

Alstom CEO Patrick Kron, said: “These new plants are the initial steps required to help create a French industrial cluster of excellence in the field of marine renewable energies which will meet the needs of the French and European markets.”

The first Haliade 150 installed at the Le Carnet site in the Pays de la Loire region has just begun final testing prior to certification. It now operates at its nominal power of 6MW, wind permitting, and data collected on land will be used to check performance and the kind of power produced according to the wind. The electricity generated is sent to the local grid to supply neighbouring municipalities.

The second wind turbine, which has just been completed in the Saint-Nazaire temporary workshop, will be taken to Ostend harbour, Belgium, later this week, to be installed and tested under real sea conditions. It will be deployed at the Belwind wind farm, which already hosts 55 wind turbines.

The news from Alstom follows other industry developments for 6MW offshore wind turbines. This includes firm Siemens, which started field tests of its record-breaking 154m rotor for a 6MW offshore wind turbine in October 2012.