Areva cuts jobs at Bremerhaven

Areva Wind is cutting hundreds of jobs at its German manufacturing facilities as delays in offshore wind projects have led to a lull in turbine orders.

The company will reduce its staff of employees with fixed contracts at facilities in Bremerhaven and nearby Stade to 500 by year-end from 660 now, an Areva spokeswoman told Recharge.

“Project delays in Germany are also affecting Areva turbines,” the spokeswoman said.

“Areva has to reduce jobs in Germany. In the mid-term, Areva believes in the German market, however. Growth will return.”

Bremerhaven and Stade are slated to be part of Areva’s contribution to the offshore wind joint venture company the French group plans to form with Gamesa of Spain, which was announced earlier this week.

As part of the latest cuts, another 100 manufacturing workers won’t have their limited contracts renewed, and will leave the company at the end of February, Karsten Behrenwald, managing director of the Bremerhaven section of metal workers union IG Metall, told Recharge.

Also, Areva at the end of 2013 had already shed 250 subcontracted temporary workers, Behrenwald says. Areva confirmed that temporary contracts were running out and subcontracted workers are leaving production, but did not disclose exact figures.

Areva’s M5000-116 offshore turbines from Bremerhaven are currently being erected at the 400MW Global Tech 1 and the first phase of the 400MW Borkum West projects.

But delays at other projects led to a lack of immediate follow-up orders.

Among the planned wind farms that are delayed is the 400MW MEG 1 project off Germany’s North Sea coast. Developer Windreich had expected to announce a financial close for the fairly advanced project last year, but Windreich’s insolvency late last year halted that.

Another pending 400MW project is Iberdrola’s €1.5bn ($2.05bn) Wikinger project in the Baltic Sea, for which Areva now expects to manufacture turbines starting only in the summer of 2015.

Project delays came in part due to investor insecurity regarding the continuation of Germany’s successful “compression model” for offshore wind feed-in tariffs that grants developers and operators a higher FIT for the first eight years of energy production, Areva said.

To some degree, the delays also were a result of lengthy grid-connection delays in the German offshore sector.

The IG Metalls' Behrenwald demands that Areva shifts its German manufacturing workers to short-time work to bridge the time until expected further orders come in.

“We know that production will start again at the end of 2014,” he said.

Unions, the government of the city-state of Bremen and Bremerhaven, and Areva are in ongoing talks about possible measures to mitigate the job cuts.

“The layoffs are unnecessary,” Behrenwald claims.