Salmond hails Goliath-alliance between Gallic nuclear giant and Spanish turbine colossus as ‘good for Scotland’


Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond last night hailed an unexpected alliance between Areva, a French nuclear giant, and Gamesa, a Spanish wind-turbines manufacturer as ‘great news for Scotland’.

French nuclear reactor maker Areva Chief Executive Officer Oursel
French nuclear reactor maker Areva Chief Executive Officer Oursel

The state-controlled French nuclear group Areva and Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa had earlier announced a preliminary agreement to create one of the biggest players in the EU offshore wind energy sector.

The two companies – which will each have 50% each in the new joint venture – said in a joint statement that “offshore wind energy is one of the renewable energies with the most growth potential in the coming years, especially in North European coastal countries”.

The new alliance will enable the companies to share the risk associated with the hefty cost of research and development, as well the work to adapt factories for the production of wind turbines. Without providing any figures, they added that the alliance would lead to “significant synergies” and that they expect a final agreement to be signed in summer 2014

This Franco-Spanish alliance follows a similar move by the world’s biggest maker of onshore wind turbines – Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems which last September unveiled a joint venture with Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to manufacture and supply offshore wind turbines.

Welcoming the announcement of the offshore wind joint venture between AREVA and Gamesa, First Minister Salmond, said: “This is great news – and the Scottish Government will continue to work closely with both companies to support their plans and ensure maximum benefit to Scotland from this joint venture.

“I look forward to discussing plans for the future and for Scotland with both companies as we seek to maximise our offshore wind potential.”

Luc Oursel, Chief Executive, Areva, said: “By choosing to create a European offshore wind champion with Gamesa, Areva is playing a key role in the consolidation, already underway, of the offshore wind sector and confirms its long-term commitment to renewable energies.”

Areva, which builds nuclear reactors and mines the radio-active uranium fuel used in nuclear power stations, has been struggling to diversify into offshore wind energy. It does not make onshore turbines and its loss-making renewables arm contributed only 6% of 2012 revenue.

Spanish utility giant Iberdola – which owns Scottish Power – has a 20% stake in the Gamesa wind turbine-maker, which has stepped up efforts to expand abroad since the Spanish government passed a tough energy reform programme last year, which included a sharp reduction in state subsidies to producers of clean energy.

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