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World's mightiest offshore wind turbine nacelle rolls out

GE shipping components from France to Netherlands for assembly of first 12MW Haliade-X this summer

GE Renewable Energy (GERE) has rolled out the first 12MW Haliade-X nacelle from its factory in Saint-Nazaire, France, in the latest step toward launching the giant offshore wind turbine design into the market.

The nacelle, along with blades manufacutured at the OEM’s nearby Cherbourg plant, will be shipped to the Rotterdam-Maasvlakte, in the Netherlands, where the prototype is being built at a “quasi-offshore” location in the Dutch city’s port.

"Today's presentation of the first ever Haliade-X 12MW nacelle is the start of a key new phase in our ongoing commitment to structuring the offshore wind turbine segment,” said GERE CEO Jérôme Pécresse.

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“This project clearly reflects our ability to invest and innovate, supporting our customers on an ultra-competitive market in exponential growth. Thanks to the Haliade-X 11MW, we are proud to prepare for the future of the offshore wind industry from Saint-Nazaire, a benchmark production site for offshore wind international projects."

John Lavelle, CEO of GERE’s offshore wind business, added: "We are on track to start commercialising this new product very shortly. Once we have received the type certificate [in 2020], we will be ready to start mass production and send out the first commercial units by mid-2021.

“We aim to meet the requirements of our customers by providing a more affordable and competitive energy source."

“The first 12MW turbine comes at a time when the offshore wind market is booming globally," said Lavelle, pointing to industry analyst forecasts of a build-out expected to reach 153GW "in the next decade".

The International Renewable Energy Agency told Recharge recently it expected offshore wind to hit 228GW by 2030 and 1TW by mid-century.

A second Haliade-X 12MW nacelle is currently being assembled at Saint-Nazaire for delivery to UK technology development body the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult’s test centre at Blyth, England, “in the coming months”.

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Since opening in 2014, GERE’s Saint-Nazaire factory has already assembled some 80 of its 6MW Haliade 150s, used in the development the US’ first offshore wind farm, Block Island, as well as the Xinghua Gulf project in China and Merkur off Germany.

The 12MW turbine design, which GERE is spending close to $400m to develop, is engineered to generate 67GWh of power a year using a 220-metre-diameter rotor turning a direct-drive and permanent-magnet-generator transmission system. By GE’s calculations a 750MW wind farm made up of Haliade-Xs would be able to power one million European homes.

The conception and construction of the Haliade-X platform – the launch of which Recharge revealed exclusively last year – has been founded on a cross-portfolio approach at GE that has involved “unprecedented collaboration” within the group, not least 2017 acquisition LM Windpower, which is delivering the machine's record-setting 107-metre blades.

Making a success of the Haliade-X is vital for GE, which has been struggling in the offshore space as its largest in-stock turbine, the 6MW Haliade 150 — which was inherited from its part-takeover of Alstom in 2015 — has been outclassed by MHI Vestas and Siemens Gamesa models that have upscaled now to 10MW.

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