Areva boss: 'One French offshore zone is enough to start with'

The award of the 500MW Saint-Brieuc offshore project to a consortium led by Iberdrola, RES and Areva has given a big boost to the French-owned turbine manufacturer Areva Wind’s industrial plans, chief executive Jean Huby tells Recharge.

He says that although the company had said it would only go ahead with plans to set up an offshore turbine manufacturing hub in France if it won at least two of the five zones on offer, it decided to proceed because of the size of the zone and the prospect of working with Iberdrola and RES, as well as the possibility of being awarded further projects in the next phase of French offshore tendering.

“It’s 100 machines and we have the right partners with Iberdrola and RES,” says Huby, adding: “Today, they [the government] have allocated 2GW and there are still 4GW more to go.” Areva expects the second round of the tender to commence “fairly soon”.

Huby says winning the Saint-Brieuc area has given Areva “an opportunity to make concrete our plans to have a second industrial base”.

Areva builds offshore turbines at a complex in the German city of Bremerhaven. Huby says that while that factory can address demand in the North Sea, its plant in Le Havre is well placed to deliver turbines to projects in the UK’s Irish Sea, as well as to the French project.

Areva still has plans for a manufacturing base in the UK — probably in Scotland — to address demand in the northern part of the North Sea. “This is our plan and it’s independent of what we are committed to and what we are not committed to in the tender,” says Huby.

Areva expects to build a manufacturing capacity of 1GW of machines per year by 2017.