Both firms would hold a 50 percent stake in the new entity, which
would focus on expanding the promising but capital-intensive
offshore wind farms business, one of the sources said.
Areva and Gamesa declined to comment on the potential deal but both
have been tipped in the past to be exploring partnerships in
"In offshore you need a strategic partner. Without a deal, Gamesa
would have fallen behind," said Intermoney analyst Alvaro Navarro.
He added that in Europe, around a third of the new capacity that
will be installed over the next years will be offshore.
"If you're not positioned on this market, you're missing something,"
A renewable energy expert who declined to be named said there was
sound industrial logic behind the alliance plan.
"Given the costs, going alone makes no sense anymore," he said,
adding companies have to take big risks to develop technologies that
are barely profitable without public subsidies.
TURNING AT A LOSS
Nuclear energy group Areva, which builds nuclear reactors and mines
uranium, is struggling to diversify into offshore wind energy. It
does not make onshore turbines.
Only six percent of its 9.34 billion euro revenue in 2012 came from
its renewables arm, which has been loss-making since 2010 when Areva
started reporting the unit's results separately.
The French group has said it hoped revenues at its renewable energy
unit — which includes solar and biofuels — would reach 1.25 billion
euros in 2015, but lowered its 2013 renewables sales target to
450-600 million euros from 572 million in 2012.
Areva, 87 percent owned by the French state, said in November it
would have 126 offshore wind turbines with a total capacity of 630
megawatts in early 2014.
Areva has teamed up with French gas and power group GDF Suez for a
French tender to build 1,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind
capacity (the equivalent of one nuclear reactor), of which 500 MW is
off Le Treport in northern France and 500 MW off the islands of
Noirmoutier and Yeu.
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Areva will develop an 8 MW turbine for that tender, one of the
largest in the world. Denmark's Vestas is also developing an 8 MW
turbine, which will compete with German group Siemens' 6 MW offshore
turbines, which have been a popular choice in recent offshore
France has set a target to build 6,000 MW in offshore wind capacity
as part of a wider target for renewable energy to cover 23 percent
of its energy consumption by 2020.
The first tender launched in 2012 was for a total capacity of 2,000
MW, in which Areva, with Spanish utility Iberdrola, won one of the
Gamesa, 19.7 percent owned by Iberdrola, has stepped up efforts to
expand abroad since the Spanish government, in July 2013, passed a
tough energy reform which cut back public subsidies to clean energy
The firm had 2012 sales of 2.8 billion euros and posted a net loss
of 659 million euros, its first loss in a decade, Reuters data show.
The world's No. 4 wind turbine maker, Gamesa has already installed
almost 27,000 MW of onshore turbine capacity worldwide and is now
developing an offshore turbine with a capacity of 5 MW. The firm is
also considering a more powerful 7-8 MW model.
Most onshore turbines — whose size is limited by the difficulty of
road transport for the 50 meter long blades — have capacities around
2.5-3 MW, enough to power more than 1,500 average EU households.
(Additional reporting by Jose Elias
Rodriguez; writing by Julien Toyer and Geert De Clercq; editing by
Jane Merriman and Mark Potter)
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