GE wind focus onshore for now

General Electric’s top wind energy executives say that the company’s central focus remains onshore wind, but it continues to invest in technology to be able to compete in the emerging global offshore sector.

“Our whole strategy is all about technology differentiation and innovation. That’s how we win,” says Keith Longtin, general manager of GE’s wind product line.

"Right now, given how expensive offshore wind is, it doesn’t make sense for GE to put the lion’s share of its wind investment dollars into that sector."

“When you look at offshore, the cost is three to four times onshore. Our challenge is to continue with research and development to see if we can get a good cost position. Right now, we have a little bit more work to do,” says Anne McEntee, who was recently named vice president of GE’s renewable business.

The company in late 2011 installed its 4.1MW offshore direct-drive turbine in Gothenburg harbor in Sweden for customer Goteborg Energi, the first commercial application of the technology. It is designed to sit on a monopile in a water depth of less than 35 meters.

Longtin says the unit has achieved more than 98% availability thus far. “It’s really performing as we wanted it to do,” he says.”We have a very competitive product.”