The facility, in which €32 million has been invested, is the first one of its kind to produce Extra High Voltage power cables in North America, which until now has had to import this technology. The plant consists of a Vertical Continuous Vulcanization (VCV) process housed in a 373 foot tower.
It will give Prysmian an important competitive advantage in the Nord American high voltage cables and systems market. Significant investments are expected in this sector, also as a result of the U.S. Government’s stimulus programme involving modernization and development of power transmission networks partly to be able to exploit renewable energy sources.
The new plant joins the existing Medium and Low Voltage power cable manufacturing facilities in Abbeville and further reinforces the product range available to Prysmian’s customers which include North America’s major utility companies. In 2008 North America represented 11.8% of the Group’s total sales, with over 800 people employed in four production facilities: two in the U.S. (Abbeville and Lexington, S.C.) and two in Canada (St. Jean, Québec, and Prescott, Ontario).
In North America Prysmian is currently involved in strategic projects, such as the Trans Bay Cable (high-voltage submarine power link that will allow the city of San Francisco to access more environmentally friendly energy). Moreover, in 2007 the Group completed the Neptune project, a submarine transmission cable that delivers energy to New York City from New Jersey.
The investment in the U.S. represents a further step forward in Prysmians’ investment plans in the high-tech, high added-value sector of high voltage submarine and underground cables. In the last few years Prysmian made significant investments to increase its production capacity in markets with the greatest growth potential. These include China, where the construction of 24,000 km of new power transmission lines has been announced, and Europe, where strong impetus is coming both from the need to develop network interconnectors, and from the development of renewable energy from wind farms that require connecting to the traditional transmission networks.
Apart from the new Abbeville plant, Prysmian has 14 other facilities for high voltage cables and systems, which are located in France, Finland, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Spain, Turkey, UK, Indonesia, Malaysia and China.