Gamesa and Areva are to combine their offshore wind business units in an attempt to create a global player in the industry.

The two companies believe that the offshore sector "represents one of the most promising areas for the development of renewable energies over the next decade" and that by combining their assets and expertise they will be able to compete with established players such as Siemens.

Gamesa and Areva have started negotiations on the creation of the 50-50 joint venture and are aiming to close the deal by the end of 2014. Combining their businesses will help them to accelerate technology development as well as industrialization capacity and supply chain development.

Gamesa currently operates one prototype 5 MW offshore wind turbine at a site in the Canary Islands and said on its website that it is planning in the medium- to long-term to developer a unit in the 7-8 MW capacity range.

Areva has already developed a 5 MW offshore unit and is currently developing an 8 MW unit. Six of its 5 MW M5000 wind turbine unit have been operating at the Alpha Ventus offshore wind farm in the North Sea, and the company is currently installing a further 120 M5000 units at two other North Sea projects.

Gamesa will contribute its existing multi-megawatt technologies applicable to the offshore sector to the joint venture, including the 5 MW turbine technology and its offshore-related engineering, operation and maintenance capabilities. Areva will contribute its German turbine assembly and blade manufacturing plants to the deal, as well as its offshore wind technology and commercial contracts.

The joint venture will fulfill existing industrial development commitments both in the UK and France, that have up until now been led by Areva, which notably include the creation of a turbine assembly plant and blades manufacturing facility at Le Havre and the implementation of a network of sub-contractors and partners.

"This agreement with Areva allows Gamesa to position itself as a market leader in the offshore wind industry," said Ignacio Martin, Chairman of Gamesa. "The joint venture will provide Gamesa with an additional profitable growth platform complementary with its 2013-2015 Business Plan and which shall create material synergies with our onshore wind activities.

"Likewise, this joint venture will pave the way for the creation of a leading and cutting-edge company in the offshore segment with know-how across the end-to-end wind energy value chain."

Sian Crampsie