In the United States, the French company Nexans produces an American product to equip wind turbines

By Arnaud Leparmentier

Posted today at 10:56 a.m., updated at 11:23 a.m.

La pointe de Montauk is a bit like the Finistère of New Yorkers, a little air of Brittany at the end of Long Island, but looking east. 56 kilometers away, in the Atlantic, gigantic offshore wind turbines will soon float: twelve turbines manufactured by Siemens, with blades larger than the Statue of Liberty, whose construction was launched in mid-February. The wind farm, dubbed South Fork Wind Farm, is expected to generate 130 megawatts and power 70,000 homes in East Hampton, where wealthy New Yorkers vacation.

At last ! After seven years of procedure, the first New York offshore park should be completed at the end of 2023, while the Biden administration is increasing auctions to install wind power at sea, along the American coast. A field of wind turbines, these are windmills, but also 138,000 volt submarine cables to be laid at a depth of more than 100 meters and to be passed under the dunes and the beach of East Hampton. The architect of this part of the project, worth around 200 million dollars (189.5 million euros), is the French group Nexans, with its cable ship aurora and its cable plant located in Charleston, North Carolina.

A three-phase cable combined with optical fiber is loaded on board the Aurora.  This cable measures 45 cm in diameter.  In Charleston, South Carolina, on April 4, 2022.

On this Monday, April 4, after passing a nuclear submarine base, we discover at the dock the huge brand new red ship, which came from Norwegian shipyards in 2021, for the modest sum of 170 million euros: 155 meters long, 20,000 tons empty. Leaving the Charleston factory, a thick black cable travels and rushes inexorably into a huge yellow reel, with the attentive care of six workers.

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At a rate of 8 meters per minute, loading takes more than ten days and allows 63 kilometers of cable to be loaded. In total, 10,0000 tons: “As much as the Eiffel Tower”, enthuses Pierre-Jérôme Henin, communicator at Nexans. The ship has multiple command rooms at different angles of the ship to be able to maneuver as close as possible during the removal, and has all kinds of gear to assist it: a robot that expels pressurized water, to bury the cables under the sand; another to view the underwater drop. The time when you laid your cable without asking questions is over. The customer wants to be sure that it is placed without twisting or tension, to last a long time.

The “Aurora” probe can dive up to 3,000 meters deep, in order to check the laying of cables on the seabed.  In Charleston, South Carolina, on April 4, 2022.

A full order book

The order book is full until 2025, assures the general manager of the group, Christopher Guérin, 49, and the crew is preparing to descend the 38 kilometers of the channel into the river and to take to the sea, direction not the American coasts, but the North Sea. Explanation, Nexans (7 billion euros in standardized turnover in 2021) will “test” the first cables out of its American factory with its loyal customer Seagreen, off Scotland, and, above all, the American market. slow to start.

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