Is ‘wind power’ blowing away the competition for renewable energy? Take a look at France’s first offshore wind manufacturing site – powered by GE (NYSE: GE)
A report just out by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) reveals that China installed nearly half of the 63 gigawatts of wind power added globally in 2015, and now accounts for about a third of the world’s installed wind power capacity.
While China has overtaken the EU to become the world’s top region for wind power – with the United States in second place, GE (NYSE: GE) has completed what it says is “one of the world’s largest generators ever built” – for the first offshore wind manufacturing site in France.
“Wind power is leading the charge in the transition away from fossil fuels. Wind is blowing away the competition on price, performance and reliability, and we are seeing new markets open up across Africa, Asia and Latin America, which will become the market leaders of the next decade. Wind power-led new capacity additions in both Europe and the United States, and new turbine configurations have dramatically increased the areas where wind power is the competitive option,” said Steve Sawyer, secretary general of GWEC.
Globally, countries are jockeying for position in wind power. By adding 2,623 MW of wind power in 2015, India replaced Spain at the fourth spot. Germany is leading Europe with its rate of investment, adding a massive 2,282MW last year, according to other recent figures from the European Wind Energy Association. The UK still has Europe’s most installed offshore wind power, at 5,061MW to Germany’s total of 3,295MW.
This week, GE Power Conversion – a business unit of GE Energy Connections – has successfully completed manufacturing the first serial Permanent Magnet Generator (PMG) in GE Renewable’s offshore wind factory in Saint-Nazaire, which was inaugurated in late 2014. It is set up to have a capacity of manufacturing 100 generators per year.
As the first series, 300 generators are to be manufactured on-site. The first recently completed generator is to be installed in GE’s Haliade™ 150-6MW offshore wind turbine in Denmark. The turbine’s power yield is 15 percent higher than that of other same-generation wind turbines and each is capable of supplying 5,000 households per annum, says GE.
“The factory in Saint Nazaire is the first offshore wind manufacturing site in France. It is a milestone in the nation’s energy history. Now by leveraging technologies from different GE businesses – the GE Store, we are well positioned to bring clean offshore wind energy to the domestic market as well as export to regions beyond France where energy is needed,” said Frederic Maenhaut, Renewables Executive, GE Power Conversion.
GE Power Conversion has successfully completed manufacturing the first serial PMG in GE Renewable’s offshore wind factory in Saint-Nazaire, which was inaugurated in late 2014.
The 6-MW PMG is described as “one of the world’s largest generators ever built.” “Its direct drive system has no mechanical gearbox coupled to the generator. Low component count increases equipment reliability and therefore enables higher energy efficiency, which also leads to increased turbine availability. Less downtime and maintenance requirements ultimately can reduce the cost of wind energy,” says GE.
“Offshore wind is gaining increasing competitiveness in the power mix, and GE is well positioned to serve this industry. We developed this PMG technology five years ago. It is ideal for offshore setting, helping increase wind turbines’ availability and optimizing energy production,” said Mr. Maenhaut.
GE’s PMGs have been previously selected to be installed on Block Island, Rhode Island which was America’s first offshore wind farm, which will help generate 30 MW of electricity in 2016.
Buying renewable energy is also a way for companies to demonstrate their sustainability credentials to their stakeholders. Around COP21 last year Google unveiled plans to buy electricity generated by a string of new wind and solar farms around the world.
Coming after a spate of large companies entering similar renewable power purchasing transactions – including Amazon, General Motors and Facebook- it was reported by the Financial Times as “one of the biggest renewable energy deals made by a company outside the utility sector”
The fourth quarter of 2015 saw more than 5,000 MW installed in the U.S., which now has an annual market of 8,598 MW, and a cumulative total of 74,471 MW. Analyst say that due to Congressional action late last year, the future looks very bright for the U.S. wind business, with longer market visibility than it has ever had before.
Dina Medland is an independent writer, editor and commentator with a strong focus on issues around corporate governance, ethics, the workings of the boardroom and sustainable business. She is on the team of contributors to @ForbesEurope and is an ex-Financial Times staff member who has been a regular contributor in recent years. Further details about her background and a portfolio of work – including her commercially sponsored blog ‘Board Talk’ are available on her website http://www.dinamedland.com