GE’s Workhorse Wind Turbine Reaches Milestone

The most widely sold wind turbine in the megawatt-class for the global wind power industry has reached a major milestone. GE Energy announced that its 2,500th 1.5 MW machine was installed as part of ENEL’s Littigheddu project in Sardinia, Italy.

Using 36 of the GE 1.5 MW wind turbines, it is ENEL’s largest wind project and one of the largest in Italy. In conjunction with this landmark installation, GE also cited the long and continuing evolution of its 1.5 MW wind turbine technology. The first such wind turbine was installed in April of 1996 in Germany, and quickly developed into the workhorse of the GE Energy wind turbine fleet worldwide. Over the years, an improvement program has integrated valuable lessons learned and knowledge gathered from long-term plant operation and customer feedback. Currently new research and development efforts are being implemented to further enhance the 1.5 MW design, including efforts to provide greater efficiency in lower wind regimes. “Our 1.5 MW wind turbine has been proven in nearly every wind regime, terrain and climate worldwide,” said Steve Zwolinski, president of GE Energy’s wind operations. “As we celebrate this milestone, we also continue to invest in technology improvements that will build upon the vast experience base of our installed fleet and will result in even higher levels of wind turbine reliability and efficiency.” To support R&D efforts for its wind energy technologies, over the past two and a half years GE Energy has increased its wind-engineering workforce fourfold, and has used synergies with other GE businesses to incorporate best practices, lessons learned and Six Sigma quality processes into its wind turbine development efforts. In recent months, the company has invested more than $10 million in R&D enhancements for the 1.5 MW wind turbine, as well as other wind technologies. Recent enhancements/new features of the 1.5 MW technology include: — Variable rotor diameters that can be optimized for every category of wind application to increase energy yields and reduce energy generation costs. — Innovations in power electronics, including WindVAR (Wind Volt Amp Reactive Technology). Along with the previously introduced Low Voltage Ride-Thru (LVRT) capability, this new technology will further increase the grid stability of the 1.5 MW turbine. — Cold Weather Extreme package, which enables operation of the wind turbine in temperatures as low as -30 degree C and guarantees a survival temperature of -40 degree C. — A modular tower that enables 1.5 MW wind turbines to be adapted to hub heights ranging from 61 to 100 meters, providing customers with the flexibility to meet local regulations. In addition to its 1.5 MW technology, GE Energy’s wind turbine portfolio also includes the 2.x series, which is designed to accommodate a wide range of wind sites and conditions; and the 3.6-MW wind turbine, the first wind turbine of its size class to be deployed at sea.
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