Areva boss urges Norfolk and Suffolk firms to go for German contracts

PUBLISHED: 06:30 10 October 2012

A previous wind farm project in the region. All 88 turbines at the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm have now been installed. Picture: Ian Burt

A previous wind farm project in the region. All 88 turbines at the Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm have now been installed. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2012

Firms in East Anglia are being urged to carve out offshore wind energy business in Germany to put them in a leading position to win the next round of UK contracts.

French-owned offshore wind turbine manufacturer Areva is set to meet this region’s companies at an event in Lowestoft later this month, as one of its senior figures urged potential suppliers to the wind industry in East Anglia to get in touch now and get ready for next round of wind farm construction.

It comes after Areva was one of seven global companies which wrote to chancellor George Osborne threatening to withdraw plans for future investment because his attempts to water down the Government’s green commitments.

But Julian Brown, Areva’s head of wind in the UK, said: “Areva has a strong place in the market. We are keen to develop our position in the UK market. We have to get stuck in on the ground and do the best we can in the confidence that the government will make the right decisions for the industry in the long term.”

He said: “The UK long term is the biggest market by far, but it is not all happening in the next five minutes, it is happening over a period of time. We encourage companies and come and get to know us and meet us. Round Three is going to take 20 years to build.

But he said there were opportunities for regional companies in Germany now.

He said: “There are turbines in the yard. If UK suppliers are competitive then there is business they can do now. They should come and explore the opportunities. They should get involved in the industry now and not wait for it to happen in the UK and the region.”

Areva’s meet-the-buyer event at OrbisEnergy is on October 23 and has been organised by the East of England Energy Group.

James Gray, inward investment director at EEEGR, said it was a good sign that things are moving.

He said: “I have a lot of discussions going on with major companies in the offshore wind industry and they are going through pretty a extensive process to decide which contracts they are going for. These contracts have to be handed out and awarded. This takes time.

He added: “Areva is a world leader in this industry and they have recognised that our local businesses have a lot of experience to bring to the table.”

Mr Brown said that Areva liked to build long term relationships with suppliers.

He said: “We want to know what resources are there and what businesses want to work with us. Some will think it is not for us, others will stay in touch and see how things unfold. Some will come and visit us in our factory in Germany.

“Round Three is closer than you think. People are making commercial decisions and gearing up for Round Three.”

Areva has recently set up a UK team based in Edinburgh and is looking to build a factory in the UK. East Anglia has been identified as a potential service base for offshore wind farms in the North Sea.

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