Alstom factories at Saint-Nazaire: building the future of the marine renewable energy sector

29 Jan 2013
Inauguration du lancement des travaux de l'usine de Montoir de Bretagne St Nazaire de l'Haliade 150 par le 1er Ministre le 17 Janvier 2013

© Alstom

The construction of two Alstom factories in Montoir-de-Bretagne, near Saint-Nazaire is off to a flying start. Dedicated to nacelle assembly and the manufacture of alternators for Alstom’s future offshore wind turbines, both are expected to be operational by 2014. The launch represents a key stage for the marine renewable energies sector in the region.


These are Alstom’s first new factories in France for more than 30 years. And on 21 January, the industrial group killed two birds with one stone by inaugurating both factories, one for manufacture and one for assembly. As a symbol of French dynamism in this growing industrial sector, and of the positive impact of the government “Investments for the Future” fund, the project was launched by Jean-Marc Ayrault. The Prime Minister was notably accompanied by ministers Arnaud Montebourg (Economic recovery), Delphine Batho (Ecology, sustainable development and energy) and Pierre Mosocovici (Economy and finance), as well as the president of the Pays de la Loire Region, Jacques Auxiette and Jean-Claude Pelleteur, president of the Neopolia professional network..


 Alstom’s Saint-Nazaire factories in figures:

  • Production launch in 2014.

  • 2 industrial buildings with a total surface area of around 2.5 hectares in a 14 hectare zone.

  • Production capacity of 100 machines / year.

  • 300 direct jobs and 2 500 direct and indirect jobs are anticipated.


Located at Montoir-de-Bretagne, in Saint-Nazaire’s port zone, Alstom’s manufacturing hub will comprise two factories, one for the manufacture of turbines and the other for assembly of the nacelles of the marine wind turbines. Alstom is the exclusive supplier for a consortium led by EDF EN within the framework of the first government tender for offshore turbines. Its most notable product is the Haliade 150, the world’s biggest marine wind turbine, 240 of which are to be delivered to the wind farms of Courselles-sur-mer, Fécamp and Saint-Nazaire.


By 2014, these factories will replace Alstom’s temporary Saint-Nazaire workshops, used to produce the Haliade pre-production models. Alstom’s development plans also anticipate the inauguration of two complementary factories in Cherbourg (Manche), which will build the blades and masts of the offshore turbines, and the founding of a research centre in Loire-Atlantique. Up to 100 million euros will be invested in these projects.


Thousands of jobs


Around three hundred jobs will be directly created in the two factories in Montoir-de-Bretagne (60% skilled) between now and 2018. The overall boost to the sector in the region is expected to be particularly significant from 2016.


According to Patrick Kron, Alstom’s chairman and chief executive, no fewer than 2 500 direct and indirect jobs will be created in the Pays de la Loire region, and the number of local companies supplying Alstom will triple. More than 500 businesses have already been approached, through introductions facilitated by the competitive tender organised by the Neopolia network in Saint-Nazaire. The first contracts with the suppliers of materials and services to the new factories could be signed as early as 2014.


Alstom also anticipates the foundation of its world research and development centre specialising in renewable marine energies in the Nantes-Saint-Nazaire métropole. 200 jobs will be gathered there, of which 80% will be engineers.


Involvement of local

Les élus locaux signent la convention avec Alstom - copyright Tim Fox

Signing the agreement with Alstom – © Tim Fox

The inauguration of the construction of the two factories coincides with the signing of an agreement with the local government bodies involved. Alstom, the Pays de la Loire Region, the Nantes-Saint-Nazaire metropolitan area, and the Carene (Communauté d’agglomération de la région nazairienne et de l’estuaire, local government grouping for Saint-Nazaire area) have agreed to participate actively in the development of the renewable energy sector in the region.


This agreement reinforces the links between the different actors in the region concerned with local industrial recruitment, with particular emphasis on the development of training programmes tailored to the needs of the marine renewables sector and support for innovation. It also complements the significant government support for successive calls for tenders (see box). “There is no such thing as significant industrial development without a kick-start from the public finances, starting with everything that went into building the prototypes,” said Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault as he laid the first foundation stone of the Alstom factories at Saint-Nazaire. “Our country has an industrial future; the proof is standing before us. Growth in the energy and clean technologies sector is estimated to be between 5 and 10% per year. Our task is thus to promote offshore wind turbines and construct a French benchmark for this new industrial sector.

Offshore wind turbine factories in St Nazaire: artist’s impression // ALSTOMPOWER


Investments for the future: new call to tender for the marine renewable energies

Speaking at the ceremony to inaugurate the construction of two huge new Alstom factories at Saint-Nazaire, Jean-Marc Ayrault announced the next tendering process for projects that involve the delivery of new technologies, notably those concerning marine turbines. The Investments for the future fund will allocate around 300 million euros to the marine renewable energy sector.Escaping the financial crisis through innovation. With its “Investments for the future” fund, the French government promotes growing industrial sectors through a series of tendering processes. The first two tenders for offshore wind turbines saw the sites at Guérande (Loire-Atlantique) and Deux-Îles (Vendée) among the handful of winners, confirming the major role that the Pays de la Loire will play in the marine renewable energies.