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GE: Big Investment in Offshore Wind

Posted to Subsea Technology (by on March 26, 2010

Corporate giant pledges nearly half a billion to further develop Offshore Wind Power

(Photo courtesy of GE)
GE announced plans to invest approximately $455m to develop or expand its wind turbine manufacturing, engineering and service facilities in four European countries—the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden and Germany—signaling GE’s long-term commitment to the promising European offshore wind sector. “Offshore wind will play a vital role in meeting the growing global demand for cleaner, renewable energy and has a bright future here in Europe,” said Ferdinando (Nani) Beccalli-Falco, president and CEO of GE International. “These investments will position us to help develop Europe’s vast, untapped offshore wind resources, while also creating new jobs for both GE and our suppliers.”

While offshore wind is arguably the most advanced of all offshore renewable energies, the technology to develop and deliver is still considered to be in its infancy by many analysts, though investments by global corporate titan’s such as GE will expedite the development.

At the core of GE’s European expansion plans is the development of GE’s next generation wind turbine, a 4-MW machine designed specifically for offshore deployment. As the largest wind turbine in GE’s fleet, it will incorporate advanced drive train and control technologies gained through GE’s acquisition of ScanWind. The 4-MW wind turbine will feature GE’s technology that eliminates the need for gearboxes. This technology is already being demonstrated at a test site in Hundhammerfjellet, Norway, where the first ScanWind direct drive unit has been operating for more than five years.

The European Wind Energy Association expects that Europe’s offshore wind sector will grow more than 70% in 2010, with continued growth forecast over the next several years. If all of the offshore wind projects currently in development are completed, they could produce 10% of the European Union’s total electricity while avoiding 200 million tons of CO emissions each year. Overall, offshore wind is expected to make a major contribution in helping the European Union reach its goal to have 20% of its energy produced from renewable resources by the year 2020.

Some specifics of the GE plan include:

-          GE will add to its existing presence in Norway with plans to create a new Offshore Technology Development Center in Oslo and will expand its advanced demonstration unit production and service facilities in Verdal. GE also has joined the Nowitech Research Center in Norway to participate in joint research projects on offshore wind topics.

-          In Sweden, GE also will expand its current offshore wind facilities by developing a Conceptual and Systems Design Center in Karlstad, Sweden. A technology demonstration unit is planned to be installed in Gothenburg harbor, and GE also will join the Chalmers Wind Energy Center in Gothenburg.   

-          A new engineering center in Hamburg, Germany will feature product development, application engineering and advanced technology. GE also plans to expand its resources at its existing wind turbine manufacturing facility in Salzbergen, as well as the GE Global Research Center in Munich.  

-          GE plans to establish its offshore wind turbine manufacturing in the United Kingdom. In addition, GE will locate application and service engineering resources in the country and will bring partners and suppliers of towers, blades, nacelles and other offshore wind components to the manufacturing facility.

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