GE Renewable Energy is shipping the first Haliade-X 12MW nacelle and one of its 107-metre blades to the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult technology development centre in the UK for high-speed testing in advance of the machine moving into mass production in 2021.

The nacelle, manufactured in the US company’s Saint-Nazaire, France, will undergo a series of trials designed “to replicate real-world operational conditions” to trim the time needed to validate performance, while the blade, fabricated nearby at its Cherbourg facility, is put through testing “to simulate the blade’s readiness for years of operation at sea”.

GE is concurrently building a fully assembled prototype of the Haliade-X at a site in the Port of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.

John Lavelle, CEO of GE’s offshore wind business unit, said: “We want to bring the most powerful offshore wind turbine to the world’s largest offshore wind market and contribute with our technology to support the UK’s offshore wind sector deal goal [of 30GW by 2030], and UK government’s ambition to work for greenhouse emission reduction to “net-zero” by 2050.

“The extensive experience across the UK offshore wind industry provides us with the opportunity to partner with various institutions, such as ORE Catapult, that allow us to test our technology while fostering competitiveness and partner with local supply chain players that want to innovate with us and be part of the UK’s offshore wind momentum.”

ORE Catapult CEO Andrew Jamieson stated: “Through our collaboration [with GE], we will deliver increased UK research, supply chain development, reduced cost of energy and a significant step on the path to net zero”.

GE is spending close to £15m ($19m) on testing and R&D for the Haliade-X, which is designed to generate 67GWh of power a year using a 220-metre-diameter rotor turning a direct-drive and permanent-magnet-generator transmission system.

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, with the conglomerate engaged in “unprecedented collaboration” within the group, including 2017-acquisition LM Wind Power, which has developed the supersize blade concept.

GE, which Lavelle recently told Recharge has 10GW in bids “at various stages of negotiation” out for projects internationally for the Haliade-X, hopes to have the turbine type certificate next year and first commercial units shipped in 2021.

Vattenfall recently announced it would deploy of the Haliade-X 12MW on its future projects in European waters.