GE Sees Significant Growth in Wind Power

In light of all the project news coming out from GE at Global WindPower 2004, it only seems logical the company’s wind power division is doing well for themselves and looking forward to continued success. With GE Energy’s activities in the global wind industry producing more than $1.2 billion in revenues for 2003 — a 150% increase above the previous year’s total — that’s exactly the message they delivered at the industry’s leading conference.

Chicago, Illinois – March 31, 2004 [] “The growth of this business within the GE Energy portfolio is a clear indication of the tremendous interest in wind power, which has become the world’s fastest growing energy source,” said Steve Zwolinski, CEO of GE Energy’s wind operations. “With its continuing technology advancements, wind-generated electricity is becoming competitive with other energy options – a key factor in positioning wind power as an increasingly important source of clean energy for the 21st century.” In the U.S., GE Energy’s wind turbine installations for 2003 totaled 873 MW of new wind generated capacity, enough to serve the annual electricity needs of more than 270,000 average households. These orders alone represent more than 110% more capacity than reported by the American Wind Energy Association to have been installed in total throughout the U.S. during 2002, and represents over half of the capacity installed in the U.S. during 2003. In Europe and Asia, GE Energy’s 2003 installations totaled 630 megawatts of new, wind-generated capacity. Underscoring the growth of the wind energy industry and GE’s commitment to renewables, during its first 22 months in wind energy, the company has more than doubled its wind engineering workforce, quadrupled its R&D engineering support to the wind segment, and initiated over 100 new wind energy technology projects. GE also dedicated an existing GE facility in Florida to wind turbine blade manufacturing and announced the 2004 opening of a new Global Research Center in Europe with an added focus on renewables. “We view wind as a natural evolution of our global family of technology and service offerings and a solution that many of our traditional customers will require in the decades ahead,” said Zwolinski. “Synergies from several GE businesses, in areas such as advanced materials, transportation gearing applications and power controls, are being applied to our wind turbine technology. Our Six Sigma quality procedures are driving further improvements in wind turbine generators.” GE Energy’s purchase of solar photovoltaic (PV) company Astropower hasn’t gone unnoticed in the renewable energy industry either. Although, at this point, the company’s major renewable energy push is clearly through wind power. Among the recent wind technology advancements from GE was the launch of its 3.6-megawatt wind turbine – the world’s first wind turbine over three megawatts designed specifically for offshore applications. Following the erection of a prototype unit in Spain, the first seven 3.6-megawatt machines were installed off the coast of Ireland by GE as a demonstration platform to provide new technology surety for its customers. GE’s 3.6-megawatt machine also has been selected as the technology of choice for several other proposed projects, including Cape Wind in Massachusetts which, if built, will become America’s first, and the world’s largest, offshore wind facility. GE also unveiled its 2.x series of wind turbines in 2003. The 2.x machines provide three different power classes (2.3, 2,5 and 2.7 megawatts) for optimal generation at a wide variety of wind conditions. A recent advancement in power electronics, GE’s “Low Voltage Ride-Through” (LVRT) capability is designed to meet new customer needs and enables wind energy, for the first time, to meet transmission standards similar to those demanded of thermal generators. Introduced in 2003, LVRT capability is now being built into all of GE’s new wind turbines.
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