Areva mulls German test for 8MW

Areva Wind and local developer Energiekontor may install a prototype of Areva’s 8MW offshore turbine in the municipality of Drochtersen in northern Germany – local politics permitting.

“We are in talks with Areva and municipalities about the implementation of such a project,” an Energiekontor official told Recharge.

“But those are preliminary, no decision has been taken yet.”

Areva, which manufactures turbine blades in nearby Stade, had no comment on the matter.

Areva’s 8MW model on the drawing-board has a rotor diameter approaching 190 metres, with 90-metre-long blades powering a medium-speed geared drive-train, and permanent magnet generator concept "extrapolated" from the technologies used on its 5MW M5000 series machines.

The M5000 is already in service on two offshore wind farms off Germany and in the frame for the country’s 400MW Wikinger project

If the municipality of Drochtersen and the district of Stade approve the plan, the prototype could be erected in late 2015, according to a report in the Stader Tageblatt local newspaper.

Drochtersen is sited on the river Elbe near its estuary with the North Sea.

It is unclear, however, whether the project will overcome the hurdle of local politics. A member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the biggest party in Drochtersen, confirmed his party’s opposition to the project to Recharge, without giving details.

According to the newspaper, the CDU objects to the project as it fears it could impede the construction of a highway in the area, while the Green party says the giant turbine may cast too much shadow on local roads – a major issue in Germany.

A committee in the municipality reportedly is due to take a decision on the project today.

Areva and a consortium of utilities put in a bid late last year to build 1GW of offshore wind capacity off western France, using the new 8MW turbines.

So far it is unclear, however, where Areva plans to test a prototype of the 8MW machine.

The French company has production facilities in Bremerhaven and Stade in Germany, and plans to construct a four-factory wind turbine complex at the port of Le Havre, France, making both France and Germany potential candidates for a prototype site.

Due to delays in German offshore wind project, Areva Wind is cutting its staff in Bremerhaven and Stade to 500 by year-end from 660 at the beginning of this year.

It is also unclear how a recently announced offshore joint venture with Spain’s Gamesa may alter Areva’s plans for the 8MW prototype in general.