LM Wind Power announced that they will open a new wind turbine blade factory dedicated to the offshore market in Cherbourg, France. The Cherbourg plant will have the capability to manufacture the world's longest blade at 88.4 meters.
The new wind turbine blade factory in the Normandy will be built on a site developed by Ports Normands Associés (PNA), a port authority that includes the Normandy region and the Manche Department. Ground breaking will begin in March 2017 and production is expected to commence from June 2018.
This facility will have the capability to produce the longest blade in the world, the LM 88.4 P. The company expects the operation will grow to a capacity between 1.2 and 2.0 GW. The plant will serve all customers in the global offshore wind blades market, but the decision by LM Wind Power to start construction has been greatly facilitated by the concurrent signing of a supply agreement with GE for the blades powering its Haliade offshore wind turbine.
In October 2016 LM Group Holding A/S had announced that Doughty Hanson, the European private equity firm, has agreed to sell its stakes in LM Wind Power Holding A/S to GE for an enterprise value of € 1.5 billion. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2017, subject to regulatory approvals.
Strong local support
The French government has awarded two tenders in 2012 and 2014 for 3 GW of offshore wind production. More recently, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs, Ségolène Royal, announced two further projects, both on the French coast. The larger turbines and blades for offshore wind require a coastal location and manufacturers need access to a modern and efficient harbour which is clearly the case in Cherbourg.
The new blade factory benefits from strong support from the Normandy authorities. Ports Normand Associés (PNA) has invested heavily to prepare the port in order to welcome industrial companies such as LM Wind Power to develop renewable marine energy. Ultimately, LM Wind Power expects to employ over 550 people, with as many as 2,000 further indirect jobs resulting in the local area.
"This move recognizes the strategic growth of offshore wind energy in Europe and the emerging commercial opportunity for Cherbourg and the surrounding region. As a leader in wind turbine blade manufacturing, LM Wind Power has a proven track record of success in building long blades to meet the harsh and demanding challenges of marine operations. Blades of this enormous scale represent the leading edge of technology, reducing the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) to make offshore wind competitive with onshore wind, fossil fuels and nuclear energy. The addition of this new facility will bring significant, highly skilled, long-term, sustainable 'green' jobs to the region benefitting the economy and the local community," said Alexis Crama, Vice President Offshore, LM Wind Power.
Hervé Morin, President of the Normandy Region and of Ports Normands Associés, commented: "The Region very strongly supports this expected and essential project for North Cotentin and Normandy. I am delighted with this excellent news. Since January, I have reached out to many people to make this project a reality. Beyond the support for the project, I agreed that the Region should make an additional effort and, take on part of the risks associated with possible delays due to the recourses affecting the French offshore wind farm."
Silke Funke / LM Wind Power