Alstom Taking Big Offshore Wind Steps (Interview)

At the WindEnergy event held last week in Hamburg, Offshore WIND spoke to Markus Rieck, General Manager of ALSTOM Renewable Germany GmbH. The company proves its position as one of the biggest renewable energy players with its latest technology development and expansion of its offshore wind work on an intercontinental level.

A week ago, Alstom’s 6MW Haliade offshore wind turbine produced its first power at the Belwind facility off the Belgian coast.

“The Belwind machine is connected to the grid and is producing power. We are gaining more and more experience with this second prototype, as the first one is the onshore prototype which has been installed already two and a half years ago. Now we have the offshore prototype in service and operation,” Mr. Rieck told Offshore WIND.

When asked about Alstom’s cooperation with the U.S. offshore wind developer Deepwater Wind on the Block Island offshore wind farm, Mr. Rieck stressed the importance of expanding to the U.S. offshore wind market at the earliest stage. By fine-tuning the new 6MW offshore wind turbine specifically for the U.S. market and with the envisaged date of installation during 2016, Alstom has a unique opportunity to establish its presence in the overseas market.

“We will enter this new interesting market very early and we expect a lot of growth in the US. It’s going to be a future growth market,” Markus Rieck stated.

The 6MW Haliade turbine has also been designated to be used in French offshore wind projects, where Alstom was awarded three project sites in 2012, as part of a consortium set up of EDF Energies Nouvelles, Dong Energy, wpd and Nass & Wind. Mr. Rieck said: “We are advancing at these three French projects, which will be installed in the water in the coming years with first construction works to be started in 2016. Furthermore, the company is building wind turbine component factories in France, specifically in Saint Nazaire and Cherbourg. The nacelle factory will become operational during this year, while the blade and tower manufacturing facilities will be ready in 2016.

The components for the U.S. offshore wind farm will also be fabricated in one of Alstom’s French facilities. As the project is scheduled to start with the installation of turbines in 2016, Alstom is gearing up to meet the deadlines. “Yes, this means the preparation has already started, teams are established and we are working full speed on the realization of this project,” Mr. Rieck said.

Finally, talking about the status of General Electrics’ takeover bid, he said that several hearings are underway and that it will take about a year to finish the transaction process. “We have started the process, but the completion of the GE transaction will be subject to works council consultation and merger control and other regulatory clearances, including French Foreign Investment authorization. The final approval of the transaction will be submitted to the shareholders. The closing is expected for summer 2015.”

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Offshore WIND Staff, September 30, 2014; Image: Navingo