GE to Manufacture Offshore Wind Turbines
GE, the US industrial group, is promoting and showing confidence in offshore wind technology by buying ScanWind, which makes direct-drive turbine components. This move will help in generating thousands of new jobs in the field of designing and manufacturing turbines. This move will affirm the confidence of investors in the fledgling offshore wind industry, which has been weighed down by concerns about costs and reliability. GE is moving ahead with establishing turbine manufacturing facilities to serve the European markets at first. They have to make up their mind about the size of the investment and location.
GE is already a force to reckon with in onshore wind power: it sells about fifty percent of the new turbines being installed in the US. GE’s global share amounts to about 20 per cent. GE was not an enthusiastic participant in the offshore business till now. They were running the show for a small demonstration facility in Ireland. Their executives were quite apprehensive about the economics of offshore generation. But we know that none of the business ideas are permanent and they get approved or disapproved according to the external environment of a country or world. When we live in a country which is densely populated with coastal reasons, we know that there is not enough space for on-shore wind projects. But we have to cater to the clean and green energy demands of a nation. So off-shore wind turbines are the one of the best answers for such countries. Off-shore wind speeds are generally higher and wind blows at a steadier pace. We can use larger turbines to harness more wind energy – larger turbines that can be easily transported via marine route. If offshore turbines are directly connected to the power grids then there is no need for overland high-voltage transmission lines in heavily populated areas. Therefore GE executives are taking advantage of the external challenges of the European continent to provide clean and green energy. The EU has a bigger target of deriving 20% of its overall energy from renewable resources by 2020 and this requires huge expansion of offshore wind production.
Vic Abate, GE’s vice-president for renewable energy, said: “The company now believed the subsidies in place for offshore wind, such as Britain’s Renewables Obligation, were robust enough to encourage large-scale investment. Offshore wind is more expensive, so without the subsidies and other supports the economics can’t stand up.” Now governments too are creating the right kind of environment to invest in off-shore wind technology. Industrial houses are quick to grab the incentives offered by the governments.
Of course the viability of offshore wind production hinges a lot upon reliability because the turbines will be maintainable only by boats, or may be ships.
GE is expected to invest hundreds of millions of dollars setting up the business, and at the same time hold out the prospect of thousands of jobs being created. These jobs will create both directly employment such as in designing and manufacturing operations, and indirectly in activities such as installation and support services.
GE is also teaming up with a company with offshore oil and gas expertise, so that they can gain an insight into the sitting structures in challenging marine environments.
Mr. Abate said GE is still in the process of exploring its new offshore wind facilities location. He stated it was likely to be where the company was offered the best partnerships by governments and local businesses.