GE launches low-wind India turbine

GE has launched a new 1.7MW turbine targeting low-wind sites in India, which it says will offer a 30% output boost compared to its 1.6MW predecessor.

The new model will come with a 103-metre rotor, compared to the 82.5-metre rotor that is standard with the 1.6MW machine, significantly improving project economics.

GE -- which opened a nacelle factory in Pune in 2011, its first-ever manufacturing plant in India -- also sells a 1.6-82.5 model in the country.

The 1.7-103 model “underscores [GE’s] effort to provide localised solutions to India,” says Banmali Agrawal, chief executive of GE South Asia, and reflects GE's “evolutionary” approach to improving its turbines.

A 100MW wind farm powered by the 1.7-103 model would generate enough power for 413,000 Indian homes, GE claims.

GE remains committed to the Indian market in spite of the many challenges there.

India installed just 1.7GW of wind last year -- down from 2.3GW in 2012 -- due to a host of challenges, including the expiration of the Generation-Based Incentive scheme.

Despite the reinstatement of the GBI late last year, analysts believe India will struggle to meet its mid-term wind targets, which call for 3GW of additions per year.

In addition to relatively high financing costs, Indian wind developers struggle against a creaky grid, delays in the signing of power-purchase agreements with financially weak utilities, and the difficulty of moving wind turbine parts around the country’s appalling transportation network.