GE announced plans to install up to five offshore demonstration wind turbines through two separate partnerships. Both initiatives will feature the largest wind turbine in GE's fleet, a 4.0-megawatt machine that includes a 110 meter rotor. GE's 4.0-110 incorporates advanced drive train and control technologies and GE's innovative technology that eliminates the need for gearboxes.
GE has signed a cooperation agreement with Norwegian energy companies Statoil and Lyse to jointly carry out technical and environmental feasibility studies for building an offshore wind demonstration project in Rogaland County, off the southwest coast of Norway. The agreement includes the installation of up to four 4.0-megawatt offshore, direct drive wind turbines. Subject to successful completion of the feasibility studies and the appropriate investment and funding decisions, the installation of the wind turbines will start in 2012.
GE is also planning an onshore installation of its direct drive machine in 2011. The machine, designed specifically for the offshore environment, will be erected in Gothenburg Harbor in Sweden in cooperation with Gothenburg Energy.
According to a recent Emerging Energy Research (EER) market study, the installed base of offshore wind grew from 70 megawatts to 1.5 gigawatts over the past eight years. EER expects that total to rise to nearly 45 gigawatts by 2020. Much of that growth is expected to occur in Europe, particularly in the UK, where the government has launched a program for a massive expansion of offshore wind energy. The country is currently working towards a third round of offshore wind farm developments.