'LM has done great things in blades – GE has the whole-turbine view'
GE Renewable Energy chief executive Jérôme Pécresse talks to Recharge about the $1.65bn deal for turbine blade-maker LM Wind Power
Outline the industrial logic of the acquisition in the context of LM being the designer behind the GE Haliade offshore wind turbine blade and the maker of the longest blade in the world, the LM88.4P, being flown by the Adwen AD8-180
Given that with offshore [wind] the turbines are bigger and the blades are longer, there is a higher technical content. But at the end of the day we have made this move because we believe that sourcing LM's blade design and manufacturing capabilities will allow [us] to create a step change in further bringing down the cost of offshore wind.
To sustain the growth of this market costs need to continue to come down. As an industry we have done well to bring cost of wind energy down as far as we have through bigger, better performing, lower cost turbines.
To get to the next stage we feel we have to integrate design and manufacturing capabilities into our strategy.
The blade is the single biggest cost in a wind turbine and the one that drives performance. LM has done great things in design over the years but they don't have the whole-turbine view that [GE] does – everything from installation methods to digital energy.
We feel it is time to break down the silos and get together on this.
In the announcement of the takeover, you placed the accent on advancing wind turbine technology on the basis of "system design, materials science, and analytics" – will this mean longer blades, more 'intelligent' blades or game-changing new blade designs.
It will mean all of those things: longer blades, blades with more sensors that are integrated into our thinking on digital energy production, next generation blade designs.
And how does this dovetail into last October's acquisition of British modular blade designer Blade Dynamics? Should we interpret this as GE supporting the idea of modular blade designs being the way forward, given than LM also has experimented with modular designs, on Envision's two-bladed 3.6MW EN-128?
It's too early to tell but we will explore it more thoroughly with LM and Blade Dynamics. We are working on the technology, testing various ideas and now we will integrate all this into our global blade strategy.
There has been a great deal of talk on the industry grapevine about GE's plans for a 10MW offshore wind turbine. Given that LM has designed the 88.4-metre blade for the 8MW Adwen turbine – and we know that this machine's torque handling engineering means it could be upscaled toward 10MW – should we take the LM acquisition as a by-word for this ambition?
When it comes to offshore, our priority today is to commission the [developer Deepwater Wind's] Block Island project [where five 6MW GE Haliades are installed], which is a landmark in the US and worldwide markets. It is nonetheless clear that at some point a bigger turbine will be needed.