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United States

GE's McEntee rules out offshore activity

UNITED STATES: GE vice president for renewables Anne McEntee dealt a further blow to any chance the company would venture into the offshore market.

GE's 4.1MW turbine
GE's 4.1MW turbine

Speaking at last week's European Wind Energy Association's annual conference, McEntee said the company was focusing on the onshore market. GE currently has only one turbine, the prototype GE4.1-114, in operation offshore.

She said: "Offshore continues to be less than 5% of the market and as we look at the cost of offshore as in: ‘ does it make economic sense?‘, it's still three to four times higher in price than onshore."

McEntee also raised the question of policy issues during the development time required for offshore. "You question me about policy volatility in a six- to seven-year period that it takes to get those projects off the ground; there's a lot of volatility that can happen there as well.

"I would say that we continue to evaluate it each year."

Asked the same question at EWEA 2013, McEntee's predeccessor, Vic Abate, said there were no plans to develop the 4.1 machine, although the company was looking into building larger turbines. GE was reported to be looking at a 15MW machine.

In response, McEntee said GE was "continuing to look at new technologies".

In 2010, GE announced plans for a EUR 340 million expansion involving offshore manufacturing and design facilities for the 4.1MW in Norway, Sweden, UK and Germany. The company gradually reined in the plans.

It was thought the company was re-entering the offshore market after it bought Norwegian offshore wind turbine manufacturer Scanwind for EUR15 million in 2009.

McEntee's comments echoed those of GE European renewable energy general manager Cliff Harris. Speaking to Windpower Monthly in September, Harris said the company was taking a "wait and see" approach with offshore. 

Although at the time, Harris indicated there was still a possibility for the 4.1 machine to go into production, stating the need was to make it more "cost effective". Mcentee only said the one machine is still turning in Gothenburg harbour.


Speaking about the global market, she said around 43-45GW per year was being built, with a growth of around 2% a year. Areas for growth included Europe, UK, Turkey and Russia.

She added: "We look at three things in markets. First good growth in power demand. Second, stable policy and good economics. Lastly, the right strategy and products for that market."

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