Offshore

World’s largest wind farm to use GE’s biggest turbines

by William Mathis, Bloomberg

The largest offshore wind farm in the world is set to run on the world’s biggest wind turbine.

General Electric Co.’s renewables unit has made an agreement to sell its 853-foot (260-meter) Haliade-X turbines for a wind farm off the eastern coast of England. SSE Plc and Equinor ASA are developing the facility.

The deal is a testament to how the increasing scale of both projects and turbines is driving down the cost renewable energy, making them more competitive against fossil fuels.

“It cuts down on a lot of the costs of the project,” said John Lavelle, offshore wind chief executive officer at GE Renewable Energy. “When you have something of that size, you need less pedestals, less platforms, less interconnect cabling.”

The so-called Dogger Bank wind farm won a power purchase contract from the U.K. government last month that will support the project, which will have the capacity to generate 3.6 gigawatts of electricity.

The units will sell power for as little as 39.65 pounds ($49) a megawatt-hour in 2012 prices, 31% below the level in a similar auction two years ago. The wind farms will start working from 2023 to 2025.

GE’s success puts pressure on other turbine makers to boost spending to develop bigger turbines, according to Tom Harries, wind analyst at BloombergNEF. That could bring a new wave of price competition to the industry.

“With costs proportional to the number of turbines, bigger is better,” Harries said.

SSE, a utility based in Perth, Scotland, is leading the development and construction phase of Dogger Bank. The Norwegian energy company Equinor will operate the facility once it’s completed.

The companies didn’t disclose how many wind turbines GE will sell for the project. But with the whole project using the giant turbines, it could be about 300. GE’s Lavelle said that was a fair estimate.

Either way, the deal adds some good news for GE, which made an agreement with Orsted A/S to supply the turbines for the Danish wind company’s projects off the coast of Maryland and New Jersey earlier this year.