GE announces major European investment as part of offshore return

EUROPE: GE has announced plans for a €340m expansion of its European offshore manufacturing and design facilities as part of the development of its upcoming 4MW turbine.

GE's last offshore development was the Arklow Bank wind farm in the Irish Sea using 3.6MW turbines
GE's last offshore development was the Arklow Bank wind farm in the Irish Sea using 3.6MW turbines

The company is planning to increase its presence in Norway, Sweden, Germany and the UK. Speaking about the move GE vice president for renewable energy and water Victor Abate described the announcement as laying the "foundation" for the company's future offshore business.

The new 4MW turbine is being designed specifically for offshore deployment. It will use the ScanWind direct drive unit currently being tested in Hunhammerfjellet, Norway. The design allows the turbine to run without a gearbox.

GE bought Norwegian wind turbine manufacturer ScanWind for €15 million in August last year prompting speculation it was developing offshore plans. It has been absent from offshore wind since 2003, when it built the 25 MW Arklow Bank farm in the Irish Sea using seven GE 3.6 MW turbines.

GE's offshore plan

  • UK. GE plans to manufacture the turbine in the UK, which it believes could result in up to 2000 jobs by 2020. €110m of the budget will be spent in the country, which will also be home to the application and service engineering resources. There has been speculation the facility will be based in north-east England.
  • Germany. A new engineering centre will be set up in Hamburg specialising in product development and application engineering. GE is also planning to expand resources at its existing turbine manufacturing plant at Salzbergen and its research centre in Munich.
  • Norway. The 4MW will be first tested in an offshore environment in Norway. GE also plans to build an ‘Offshore Technology Development Centre' in Oslo and expand its demonstration unit production facilities in Verdal.
  • Sweden. A facility specialising in systems design and a demonstration unit is set to be located in Karlstad and Gothenburg harbour respectively.

Speaking about the plans Ferdinando (Nani) Beccalli-Falco, president and CEO of GE International said: "Offshore wind will play a vital role in meeting the growing global demand for cleaner, renewable energy and has a bright future here in Europe.

"These investments will position us to help develop Europe's vast, untapped offshore wind resources, while also creating new jobs for both GE and our suppliers."



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