GE has announced plans to invest €110m (£98m) to develop offshore wind-turbine manufacturing facilities and locate design, application and service engineering resources in the United Kingdom.
According to the US company, the move will create up to 1,900 new jobs in the UK by 2020, both in GE jobs and the associated supply chain with manufacturers of towers, blades, nacelles and other offshore wind technology locating to the as yet unnamed site.
This investment is tied to the successful deployment of the UK government’s port-development fund, announced in yesterday’s budget. The port-development fund provides up to £60m for the development of port sites to support offshore wind-turbine manufacturers looking to locate new facilities in the UK.
At the core of GE’s European expansion plans is the development of GE’s next-generation wind turbine, a 4MW machine designed specifically for offshore deployment. As the largest wind turbine in GE’s fleet, it will incorporate advanced drive-train and control technologies gained through GE’s acquisition of Scanwind.
GE’s UK manufacturing facility will produce the new 4MW offshore wind turbine and future generations of GE’s offshore technology. This technology is already being demonstrated at a test site in Hundhammerfjellet, Norway, where the first Scanwind direct-drive unit has been operating for more than five years.
Offshore wind stats:
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) expects that Europe’s offshore wind sector will grow more than 70 per cent in 2010, with continued growth forecast over the next several years.
If all of the offshore wind projects currently in development are completed, they could produce 10 per cent of the European Union’s total electricity while avoiding 200 million tons of CO2 emissions each year.
Overall, offshore wind is expected to make a major contribution in helping the European Union reach its goal to have 20 per cent of its energy produced from renewable resources by the year 2020.