Offshore, Project Development, Wind Power

GE Expands On and Offshore Wind Presence

GE announced plans to install up to five offshore demonstration wind turbines through two separate partnerships. Both initiatives will feature the largest wind turbine in GE’s fleet, a 4.0-megawatt machine that includes a 110 meter rotor. GE’s 4.0-110 incorporates advanced drive train and control technologies and GE’s innovative technology that eliminates the need for gearboxes.

GE has signed a cooperation agreement with Norwegian energy companies Statoil and Lyse to jointly carry out technical and environmental feasibility studies for building an offshore wind demonstration project in Rogaland County, off the southwest coast of Norway.

The agreement includes the installation of up to four 4.0-megawatt offshore, direct drive wind turbines. Subject to successful completion of the feasibility studies and the appropriate investment and funding decisions, the installation of the wind turbines will start in 2012. 

GE is also planning an onshore installation of its direct drive machine in 2011. The machine, designed specifically for the offshore environment, will be erected in Gothenburg Harbor in Sweden in cooperation with Gothenburg Energy. 

“We are pleased to be moving to the next phase in our offshore strategy,” said Victor Abate, vice president of GE Power & Water’s Renewable Energy business. “With Statoil, Lyse and Gothenburg Energy we have found three excellent partners with whom we can demonstrate our offshore technology. We remain optimistic about the potential of the offshore wind industry, and we believe that our partnering strategy will increase our potential for growth in this sector, particularly in Europe where we see tremendous opportunities.” 

According to a recent Emerging Energy Research (EER) market study, the installed base of offshore wind grew from 70 megawatts to 1.5 gigawatts over the past eight years. EER expects that total to rise to nearly 45 gigawatts by 2020. Much of that growth is expected to occur in Europe, particularly in the UK, where the government has launched a program for a massive expansion of offshore wind energy. The country is currently working towards a third round of offshore wind farm developments. 

At the same time, GE Energy Financial Services announced that it has made an equity investment in Idaho’s largest wind power project. The almost half billion dollar portfolio of 11 wind farms under construction was developed by Exergy Development Group. GE Energy Financial Services made the announcement on Tuesday at the American Council on Renewable Energy’s Renewable Energy Finance Forum in New York City.

The GE unit will own a majority equity interest in the Idaho Wind Partners project. Exergy Development Group will own a minority interest along with manager and operator Reunion Power. The wind farms will sell all of their power to Idaho Power Company under 20-year agreements. Once completed, the portfolio is expected to qualify for the Federal Treasury Grant program designed to stimulate renewable energy projects. Additional financial details of the transaction were not disclosed

“Through our investment in Idaho’s largest wind power portfolio, GE Energy Financial Services is putting millions of dollars to work to bring jobs and clean energy to Idaho and help the country meet growing demand for domestic, renewable sources of energy,” said Kevin Walsh, managing director and head of Power and Renewable Energy at GE Energy Financial Services.

The project is expected to create approximately 175 construction jobs as well as permanent employment for operations and ongoing seasonal maintenance requirements. In addition to those employed directly, a wind project of this size would typically support the equivalent of over 2,200 full-time jobs in the United States for one year—about half of which would be in-state—and create 25 permanent jobs, based on a National Renewable Energy Laboratory model