Areva-Gamesa 'in offshore to lead'

Gamesa claimed the 20% EU market share target of its new offshore wind joint venture with Areva by 2020 is “cautious and prudent”, and said it plans to win business in emerging Asian markets.

Xabier Etxeberria, Gamesa’s business CEO and chairman of the new venture, which was confirmed today, claimed in a conference call with analysts that the link-up with Areva is based on a “sound strategic rationale” that would allow it to quickly carve out a leading position.

“It’s a very concentrated market with technological leadership requirements that we are going to possess.”

The 20% market share ambition is based on a solid foundation of Areva’s exisiting 3.4GW of capacity in the pipeline, under construction or operating – including almost 1GW in the last French state tender round.

That 1GW leaves the JV “feeling very optimistic” about the penetration of its 8MW turbine in the market.

“We are currently thinking about a market share of about 20%, which is a cautious figure. We are prudent. We believe for a European market of something like 5GW we could have a market share of something like 20%, together with possible additional growth based on expansion in Asia Pacific.”

The Gamesa boss said his own company already has a significant position in the Indian and Chinese wind markets.

The UK will be a key market, confirmed Etxeberria, with negotiations already underway there over projects.

Asked if the French-Spanish JV would seek a UK production footprint, he said that will depend on the success of both the UK market and the JV.

But Etxeberria added: “We want to do as much as we can to be there as quickly as possible.”

Etxeberria  stressed that the  JV will start life free of debts with limited funding requirements – but the potential to call on its two shareholders if needed.

Gamesa will be preferred component supplier to the JV, an arrangement it expects to directly benefit its onshore wind operation.

And both partners are convinced that the industrial and technology case for the offshore marriage is particularly strong.

"At the industrial strategic level there has always been a very strong argument in favour of [the JV], chief commercial officer Rémi Coulon said recently, speaking with Recharge.

"There is very good alignment on the 8MW [turbine] and there is no programme delay or change on this design. We are past the conceptual stage. Though not everything is finalised there is nothing that cannot be integrated in due course.

"We have our commitments for the French tender and we have commitments with other potential prospects – we firmly intend to keep to those."

The 180-metre-diameter-rotor 8MW is being progressed as an "extrapolation" of Areva's 5MW M5000 – first erected as part of the Alpha Ventus offshore wind laboratory and currently being installed at the GlobalTech 1 project off Germany.

The two models, both featuring medium-speed geared drive-trains and "conventional" blades, will "share the same design platform and development philosophy", says Coulon.

"There will be no [technology] breakthrough for the sake of revolution," he notes.

Gamesa dropped plans to develop its own 8MW machine when the JV with Areva went ahead, instead concentrating its efforts on its 5MW model, the G128-5.0 MW, its first purpose-built offshore turbine.

The Spanish company has since upscaled the turbine with 64.5-metre-long, giving the machine a rotor diameter of 132 metres in order to boost power output by 3%.