GE cuts losses to focus on Haliade-X

GE Renewable Energy will focus on the industrial strategy for its Haliade-X 12-14MW offshore wind turbine, after dropping the two French offshore projects earmarked for the firm's increasingly outdated 6MW model.

Siemens Gamesa's 7MW turbine has similar dimensions to GE's 6MW Haliade, making it an easy swap at the French projects (pics: Siemens Gamesa | General Electric, Humza Deas)

GE terminated its agreement with the Eolien Maritime France (EMF) joint venture to supply the Haliade 6MW turbine to three offshore projects in France last week.

In its place, it signed an MoU with the EDF Renouvelables-Enbridge partnership to supply the 6MW model to the first project in the portfolio that is "cleared of any legal recourse".

With the projects out of its pipeline, GE can concentrate on developing the new Haliade-X, the manufacturing process, and produce two 12MW prototypes by the end of the summer, a source at the company explained.

GE put the blame on "excessive delays" to the projects, awarded in 2012, because of legal challenges still dragging through the courts.

This has had a "significant impact on the economic characteristics of the projects," the company said. Meanwhile, the world has moved on and the market is evolving towards 10MW plus turbines.

Due to the delays and lack of demand for the 6MW turbine, GE had to let go of over 300 people at its St-Nazaire factory after supplying the Merkur project in Germany.

The remaining 120 staff are now working full-time on the Haliade-X, with serial production slated for 2021.

"Potential customers are currently bidding for over 10GW around the world using the 12MW turbine," the source said.

Once the single EMF project is fulfilled, the Haliade 150-6MW machine will be phased out. EMF's three French offshore projects are the 450MW Courseulles-sur-Mer, 498MW Fécamp and 480MW Saint-Nazaire.

As far as the two remaining projects are concerned, EMF selected Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy's 7MW turbine as a replacement, because it is essentially the same size as the Haliade and therefore maintains the projects' overall characteristics, the consortium said.

The machine will also be built in France at SGRE's Le Havre factory. SGRE is adapting the factory to be able to manufacture both the 7MW and 8MW turbines, the company explained.