Two platforms delivered since the beginning of the year for offshore wind farms in Europe, three orders ready to be realized in France: young player in the highly competitive marine renewable energies (EMR) market, STX France wants to occupy now a prominent place.
"We did not exist on this market of RME seven years ago and today we make 100 million euros of turnover", welcomed on Thursday the general manager of STX France Laurent Castaing , having delivered to Saint-Nazaire one of the largest European electrical substations.
Intended for the Arkona field in the Baltic Sea, developed by the German group E.ON associated with the Norwegian Statoil, this platform must connect 60 wind turbines with a total capacity of 385 megawatts (MW) to a shore station and thus 400,000 German households will be supplied with clean electricity by 2019.
For the shipyard and its subcontractors, this huge substation – 50 meters long and 35 meters wide – represented "hundreds thousands of hours of work ". STX has yet to install a "big package of 4000 tons, plus another 1500 ton package in the middle of the Baltic Sea" within a few weeks, and will be in charge of maintenance for a year, Mr Castaing said.
Less than two months ago, on January 10, the shipbuilder of Saint-Nazaire delivered another electric sub-station to a wind farm in the North Sea for the Belgian Rentel consortium.  – 'On the podium' –
"Our ambition was to be one of the three major substation manufacturers, and today, with the deliveries of these two substations, we are on the podium", stressed the managing director of STX France.
The company took the turn of offshore wind turbines in 2010, before the first tenders for French offshore fleets, and while shipbuilding, the core business of STX which manufactures the largest ocean liners, was in trouble.
The Saint-Nazaire shipyard handed over a first electrical sub-station in April 2014 to the Danish company Dong Energy, before garnering in 2015 and 2016 the two major orders for the substations that have just been delivered.
STX has not yet officially won any new contracts in this sector, but its fully dedicated EMR plant, inaugurated in 2015, should not be empty for very long.
EDF Energies nouvelles has announced Thursday to be in "exclusive negotiation" with STX France and General Electric (GE) to build the electrical substations of the three parks that the group is developing off the coast of France, in Saint-Nazaire (Loire-Atlantique), Fécamp (Seine-Maritime) and Courseulles-sur-Mer (Calvados).
"We hope to sign the contract in the coming weeks," said Olivier de la Laurencie, director of the Saint-Nazaire offshore park project, the first to be commissioned in France, but not before summer 2021.
"We have yet to negotiate and finalize the contract with EDF", cautioned Laurent Castaing. Each of the three substations would represent a 100 million euro contract for the STX-GE consortium, he said.
Despite major delays in France, where this sector is still in its infancy and where it is currently more than ten years to establish an offshore park, STX is "among the French leaders of this industry, which is at the export, "said its managing director.
In the rest of Europe, where "the market is between 2 and 3 gigawatts of substation orders each year", STX hopes to land "another order before the end of the year", indicated Mr Castaing.
This could bring to four the number of platforms to be built in the next few years for STX, in addition to the nine cruise ships that the shipyard and its some 2,600 employees are to deliver by the fall of 2022.