General Electric (GE), a global technology leader and supplier of wind turbines and related services, is celebrating 10 years of industry leadership in wind energy.
Since GE entered the industry through the acquisition of Enron Wind in 2002, it has installed 18,000 wind turbines and grown the business from 500 megawatts to 28 gigawatts of installed capacity. This year, GE expects its wind turbine installed base to exceed 20,000 worldwide.
The company's global operating fleet produces enough clean energy each year to power the equivalent of New York City. Over the last decade, nearly one of every two wind turbines installed in the U.S. has been a GE wind turbine, and the company has introduced its wind technology into new markets such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Poland and Turkey.
"Our 10th anniversary is a time to acknowledge our achievements of the past decade and recognize this is only the beginning of our journey in the alternative energy sector," said Vic Abate, vice president of renewable energy for GE and former chairman of the American Wind Energy Association board of directors. "Our $2 billion in innovation investments over the past decade have transformed the wind industry and helped make wind a reliable, competitive, renewable source of carbon-free energy."
Abate says GE "is bullish" on wind power. "The cost of wind power has gone from mid-double digits to mid-single digits, largely due to wind turbine efficiency, manufacturing productivity and availability improvements," he said. "Within the next two years, wind will generate 5 percent of the planet's electricity and continue to be one of the top three new power generation sources in the next decade."
A result of this work is GE's 1.6-100 wind turbine, developed specifically to meet higher performance and efficiency needs of today's wind industry. GE has secured more than 2,750 megawatts of global commitments for this technology since it was launched in May 2011. Featuring a 100-meter rotor, the 1.6-100 captures more energy in low-wind environments.
Another technology milestone, GE's advanced technology 2.5-series wind turbines have surpassed 2 gigawatts of installed capacity worldwide. Like other members of GE's wind turbine family, both the 2.5 and the 1.6-100 benefit from the vast experience of the company's 1.5-megawatt wind turbine, the most widely deployed wind turbine in the world.
Abate points to Europe, Canada, Brazil, China and India as the top growth markets for GE's wind business in the immediate future, and GE is well positioned in each of those areas. "We are rapidly growing in Europe, and both Canada and Brazil are very active," he said.
Over the past 10 years, GE has supported many of the world's most important wind projects. These include two of the world's largest wind projects, the 845-megawatt Shepherds Flat wind farm in Oregon and CEZ Romania's 600-megawattt Fantanele wind farm, Europe's largest onshore wind project, both of which will use GE's 2.5 wind turbine technology.
In addition to equipment supply, GE's wind services business continues to grow rapidly. The company more than doubled its investment in services research and development in both 2010 and 2011 as it develops its world-class portfolio. GE's service solutions incorporate the company's advanced technology, global resources and service facilities and a network of skilled, highly trained local technicians who are closely connected to GE's engineering organization.
Data from GE's installed base that is monitored from Schenectady, N.Y., and Salzbergen, Germany, provides GE and its customers with valuable intelligence that helps drive the long-term competitiveness of wind.