GE Renewable Energy will test the world's largest offshore wind turbine at a facility in northeast England, the U.S. company announced Tuesday.
General Electric's renewables arm, and the U.K.'s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult have signed a five-year research and development agreement to test and develop next generation offshore wind technologies, a statement said.
GE Renewable Energy unveiled its plan on March 1 to develop 'the largest, most powerful' offshore wind turbine: the Haliade-X'.
'Featuring a 12-megawatt (MW) direct drive generator and an industry leading gross capacity factor of 63 percent, the Haliade-X will produce 45 percent more energy than any other offshore turbine available today,' a press release said.
The Haliade-X offshore wind turbine – which will be the world’s largest when completed - and the existing Haliade 150-6MW turbine will undergo advanced test and demonstration programs that accurately replicate real-world operational conditions to enhance performance and reliability, according to Tuesday's statement.
Testing will take place at ORE Catapult's 15MW power train test facility in Blyth, Northumberland.
British Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry welcomed the 'great news' which she said highlighted the U.K’s 'world-class research and testing facilities'.
'Through our Industrial Strategy, we are making the U.K. a global leader in renewables, including offshore wind, with more support available than any other country in the world.
'With 22 percent of all investment in European wind projects coming to the U.K., the offshore wind industry is exceptionally well placed to boost supplies of home grown clean energy whilst growing new jobs and opportunities,' she added.
John Lavelle, president and CEO of GE's Offshore Wind business, said this 'important' agreement would enable them 'to prove Haliade-X in a faster way by putting it under controlled and extreme conditions'.
'Traditional testing methods rely on local wind conditions and therefore have limited repeatability for testing. By using ORE Catapult's facilities and expertise, we will be in a better position to adapt our technology in a shortened time, reduce unplanned maintenance, increase availability and power output, while introducing new features to meet customers' demands,' Lavelle said.
In addition to the R&D activities, the agreement also includes a £6 million (US$8.5 million) combined investment with Innovate U.K. and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to install 'the world's largest and most powerful grid emulation system' at the Catapult's National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, according to the statement.
'Supplied by GE Power, Grid Emulation, in conjunction with the Catapult's power train test facilities, will enable the partners, U.K. companies and researchers to better assess the interaction between the next generation of large scale wind turbines and the electrical distribution network in the most challenging environments,' it said.
GE will invest more than $400 million over the next three to five years in development and deployment of the Haliade-X.
The first units are planned for shipment in 2021.
By Hale Turkes