By Steven Cuevas, Director of Business Development – Offshore Wind
AREVA Renewables Inc.
Last week’s announcement of AREVA’s offshore wind partnership in France with GDF Suez and Vinci brings to mind a question:
So, what qualities do you need in a great turbine manufacturer partner to develop a multi-gigawatt offshore wind industry, like in the burgeoning U.S. market?
With the United States targeting offshore wind energy to reach 10 GWs in 2020 and 54 GWs in 2030, developers, manufacturers, suppliers and governments are beginning to coalesce into cooperative relationships and accelerate market development.
In our experience, to be a great turbine manufacturer partner, you need at least these three things: creative cooperation, quality products, and economic catalyst.
- Cooperation: With a 40-turbine offshore wind farm price tag of around $1,000,000,000, you need solid partners and relationships. For example, in addition to the AREVA/GDFSuez/Vinci partnership in France, AREVA successfully achieved the first instance of non-recourse offshore wind farm financing through a consortium of 11 banks supporting the 40-turbine Borkum West II offshore wind farm in Germany’s North Sea. And to gain greater project cost efficiencies, AREVA partnered with BELUGA HOCHTIEF Offshore for a new purpose-built jack-up vessel designed to operate in the harshest weather conditions at greater depth and transport a larger quantity of foundations and turbines at one time.
- Product: Speaking of turbines, the ocean environment is a harsh, remote, salt-corrosive place to locate tight-tolerance gears, sophisticated electronics, and precision-crafted components. To mitigate these risks, you need fewer moving parts, purified interior air, and redundant dynamic monitoring systems. AREVA’s hybrid-drive 5 MW offshore wind turbine includes all three. We constructed it specifically as an offshore wind turbine: Built for the Sea. Made for the Wind. You can’t skimp on quality when your technology sits 30 miles out to sea.
- Catalyst: In our experience establishing a successful facility and expansive supply chain in northern Germany, we’ve seen how an offshore wind manufacturing hub significantly drives economic growth across a wide region. For example in one year in Bremerhaven, our commitment to localized, domestic sourcing of 3,500 components created approximately 1,200 direct jobs.
It’s these qualities that will sustain a business relationship for the duration of a large-scale project. AREVA’s skill in building partnerships, manufacturing quality products, and generating significant economic growth creates the solid foundation and project championship necessary for successfully constructing and commissioning U.S. offshore wind farms.