Engineering giant Alstom today broke ground on a wind turbine factory in France – the first time it has inaugurated a factory inside its native country for 30 years.

The ceremony in Saint-Nazaire was watched by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and the factory is one of two new manufacturing hubs that Alstom intends to form “a new French industrial cluster”.

The two plants – which are expected to be operational in 2014 – will assemble and manufacture generators for Alstom’s 6 MW Haliade 150 offshore wind turbine. They will take over the work currently being done at a temporary workshop in Saint-Nazaire which is producing an early series of the Haliade 150.

The launch today of construction work was also attended by French Energy Minister Delphine Batho and Alstom bosses, including chief executive Patrick Kron and Renewable Power President Jerome Pecresse.

Kron said the new plants “are the initial steps required to help create a French industrial cluster of excellence in the field of marine renewable energies which will meet the needs of the French and European markets”.