The two-year-old GE Renewable Energy plant at Montoir-de-Bretagne near Saint-Nazaire is producing wind turbines at maximum capacity. The plant, developed and commissioned by then-owner Alstom, is the only one in France building turbines for offshore windfarms. GE Renewable Energy (France) recently delivered the first 6-MW Haliade 150 turbine for Germany’s Merkur programme in the North Sea.
The turbine was loaded onto a cargo vessel at the new heavy-lift wharf commissioned by the Nantes Saint-Nazaire harbour authority as part of extensions to the TMDC container and cargo terminal adjoining the GE plant.
First batch of turbines for the Merkur windfarm (© GE)
Loading a Haliade turbine onto a cargo vessel at the Montoir heavy-lift wharf (© GE)
12 machines dispatched
On 4 November 2017, GE shipped a batch of six 6-MW Haliade 150 turbines to Eemshaven in the Netherlands, the logistics base for the Merkur windfarm. A second batch of six was shipped on 13 November and arrived just two days later. Two further batches will be shipped out over the coming weeks to have 24 machines in Eemshaven by mid-December. The turbines will be fitted out ready to be mated with their 73.5-metre diameter rotors produced by an LM Wind Power plant near Valencia in Spain. The first consignment of rotor blades recently left the LM plant.
Installation at sea in early 2018
The Merkur programme calls for 66 turbines. To fit in with the project timetable, there will be a pause in deliveries during the winter. The first step, scheduled to start in February 2018, will be to load the turbines onto a dedicated installation vessel at Eemshaven. At about the same time, the GE plant will resume turbine shipments to the Dutch port. Weather permitting, the 42 remaining machines will be shipped to arrive between February and June. Installation proper, also subject to weather conditions, is expected to be completed in the autumn. Connection to the mainland grid is scheduled for late 2018.
The Merkur site is 45km off the coast of Germany and the Netherlands and covers an area of 39sq.km. The towers will stand on monopile foundations in water between 27 and 33m deep. Total output will be 396MW.
GE plant and ro-ro port at Montoir near Saint-Nazaire (© Nantes Saint-Nazaire Port)
First contract for a commercial windfarm
Following a series of orders for turbines for experimental and pilot projects, the Merkur order is GE’s first for a commercial windfarm. In 2016, GE delivered five Haliade turbines for the United States’ first offshore array off Block Island in the state of Rhode Island, then another to the Osterild site in Denmark for testing and optimisation by operator EDF Energies Nouvelles. The Montoir plant also produced three turbines for the Fujian Xinghua Gulf demonstration project in China’s Fujian province. The Block Island and Fujian contracts have helped GE to establish its credentials on emerging markets for both floating or bottom-fixed solutions. Many experts believe that China and the rest of Asia will soon be the leading markets for wind power.
Four of five turbines at the Block Island windfarm off Rhode Island (© Deepwater Wind)
While the bulk of the Montoir plant’s output over the coming years is expected to go to French offshore windfarm projects, GE Renewable Energy is also actively engaged in negotiations involving a number of international projects. The plant currently employs 150 people, and provides 400 full-time jobs if one counts its subcontractors.
242 turbines for French windfarms
In addition to four 6-MW Haliade 150 machines for the Groix-Belle-Île pilot array site in 2020, GE Renewable Energy has also been selected to supply turbines for the EDF EN programmes off Guérande near Nantes (80 turbines producing 480MW) and off Fécamp and Courseulles-sur-Mer in Normandy (83 and 75 turbines, respectively, producing 498 and 450MW, respectively). These three windfarms alone call for 238 turbines generating 1,428MW.
Original, by Vincent Groizeleau, published on 16 November 2017. Translated and adapted by Steve Dyson.