US technology giant GE is seeking to block Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy’s (SGRE’s) turbines from the US market, claiming the European manufacturer is infringing its intellectual property (IP).
GE's complaint, filed with the US International Trade Commission, focuses on the "low-voltage-ride-through and zero-voltage-ride-through technologies" of variable-speed turbines that enables them to maximise power capture in fluctuating wind speeds.
SGRE denies the allegation and says it will defend itself against any exclusion order blocking it from importing wind turbines and components into the US.
Responding to Windpower Monthly's request for comment, GE Renewable Energy's director of external affairs, Sebastian Duchamp, said: "It is GE's view that the protection of intellectual property rights is the foundation for driving both innovation and investment in high technology industries, and the associated creation of high-value jobs."
GE acquired the variable-speed technology from Enron Wind, which had acquired it from Zond, which had acquired it from Kenetech … during the consolidation of the US wind turbine market in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Competitors were all forced to absorb the licence fees of GE into their gross margin for every turbine sale, allowing the US technology giant to extend its lead in the domestic market, IntelStor CEO and IP expert Philip Totaro explained.
GE Renewable Energy has pursued patent litigation against other wind power rivals in the US before.
It sued Vestas over its zero-voltage ride-through (ZVRT) technology – which helps turbines cope with fluctuating grid voltage – in 2017, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) over the same technology in 2008. GE settled the patent dispute with Vestas in 2019, and with MHI in 2013.
Previous IP holder Kenetech also successfully sued Enercon over the patent, preventing the German manufacturer from entering the US market until 2010.