(Adds background, Areva CEO comment)
By Benjamin Mallet and Jose Elías Rodríguez
PARIS/MADRID Jan 20 French state-controlled
nuclear group Areva and Spanish wind turbine maker
Gamesa have agreed a preliminary deal to create one of
the biggest players in offshore wind energy.
The companies will have 50 percent each in the new joint
venture, they said in a combined statement on Monday. Reuters
had reported on Friday that they were in advanced talks.
"Offshore wind energy is one of the renewable energies with
the most growth potential in the coming years, especially in
coastal countries in Northern Europe ... and in Asia," the
They added that the alliance would lead to "significant
synergies", without giving any figures, and that they expect a
final agreement to be signed in the summer.
The venture will enable the companies to share the risk
associated with the hefty cost of research and development, as
well the work to adapt factories for the production of wind
It follows a similar move by the world's biggest maker of
onshore wind turbines, Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems,
which unveiled a joint venture with Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy
Industries for offshore wind turbines in September.
"By choosing to create a European offshore wind champion
with Gamesa, Areva is playing a key role in the consolidation,
already underway, of the offshore wind sector and confirms its
long-term commitment to renewable energies," Areva Chief
Executive Luc Oursel said.
Areva, which builds nuclear reactors and mines uranium, has
been struggling to diversify into offshore wind energy and does
not make onshore turbines. Its loss-making renewables arm
contributed only 6 percent of 2012 revenue.
Gamesa, 19.7 percent owned by Iberdrola, has
stepped up efforts to expand abroad since the Spanish government
passed a tough energy reform last July, including a reduction in
public subsidies to producers of clean energy.
(Writing by James Regan; Editing by Julien Toyer and David