Vattenfall and GE Renewable Energy plan to join forces in the deployment of the OEM’s Haliade-X 12MW model – the largest offshore wind turbine launched in the world so far – at projects in European waters.

Vattenfall in a note in German points to the fact that it is currently bidding in the up-to 750MW tender for the Dunkirk zone in the French part of the English Channel, which it dubs Eliade.

But the Swedish utility stops short of giving GE a preferred supplier status for the project.

"The cooperation with GE Renewable Energy enables us to remain one step ahead in wind turbine technology developments,” said Gunnar Groebler, senior vice president and head of the wind business area at Vattenfall.

“The size and performance of the Haliade-X 12MW will support us to further improve the competitiveness of offshore wind energy production. Due to a lower number of turbines needed for future wind farms, there is also a positive impact on the environmental footprint."

Despite falling short of a preferred supplier agreement, the announcement is a major breakthrough for GE as it is the first time a developer has said it intends to deploy the Haliade-X in the key European offshore market.

So far, no firm plan to use GE's super-sized machine had been announced, apart from a plan to use it at the 720MW Asa Branca project off Brazil, which is, however, in the very early stages of development.

GE had suffered a major set-back last month when Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) snatched away 1GW of orders from the US company that date back to a first batch of French offshore wind tenders in 2012.

The cooperation now announced is the result of 12 months of intensive exchanges, during which Vattenfall conducted an in-depth technical due diligence and both companies jointly worked on the customisation of the platform, the utility said.

Final details of the cooperation will be defined by summer and the companies will “deep dive” on specific projects within Vattenfall offshore wind pipeline in the fall.

"Vattenfall wants to achieve fossil free living within one generation. By doing that it is also our role to use our capabilities to contribute to the development and reinforcement of the supply chain in Europe and in this particular case, in France," Groebler added.

Developers have long said they would prefer to be able to choose from more than two offshore turbine suppliers. Currently, the global offshore turbine market (except in China) is overwhelmingly served by machines from market leader Siemens Gamesa and number-two rival MHI Vestas.

The 12MW turbine features a 220-meter rotor, and a 107-meter blade. The development and production of the new turbine will mostly take place in France: its nacelle will be assembled at GE’s factory in Saint Nazaire, while GE unit LM Wind Power will produce its blades will in Cherbourg.

GE Renewable Energy plans to install the Haliade-X prototype in Rotterdam this summer and to ship the first commercial units in 2021.