GE, LEEDCo will develop Great Lakes offshore wind farm

Wind farm will be located near Cleveland, Ohio. GE will provide its next-generation 4-MW turbine for the initial 20-MW project, scheduled for completion by late 2012. This will be followed by 1,000 MW by 2020.

GE (Fairfield, Conn., USA) and Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo, Cleveland, Ohio, USA) on May 24 announced a long-term partnership beginning with the development of the first freshwater offshore wind farm in the U.S. and involving a range of other initiatives.

Under the partnership, GE will provide direct-drive wind turbines to LEEDCo's 20-MW offshore wind project in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie. The partnership and project is a significant step towards accelerating the deployment of offshore wind in the Great Lakes. The announcement was made at the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA, Washington, D.C.) annual WINDPOWER Conference in Dallas, Texas, USA.

Under the agreement, GE has committed to providing offshore wind turbines and maintenance services for an initial 20-MW wind farm. Upon its completion, targeted for late 2012, this project would be located off the shores of Lake Erie, near Cleveland. This would be followed by subsequent projects with a long-term goal of 1,000 MW in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie by 2020.

At the core of the Lake Erie Project is GE's next-generation wind turbine, a 4-MW machine designed specifically for offshore deployment. As the largest wind turbine in GE's fleet, it will incorporate direct-drive technology gained through GE's acquisition of ScanWind. The 4-MW turbine will feature GE's advanced loads controls and aeroelastically tailored blade technology.

In addition to collaborating on the initial 20-MW project, GE and LEEDCo will create a strategic plan to identify opportunities for cost reduction to make offshore wind energy in the Great Lakes economically viable. GE and LEEDCo will also work jointly on advocacy and public policy issues to increase support for offshore wind energy, and accelerate the growth of America's offshore wind industry.

"Ohio's greatest potential for creating wind energy is offshore in Lake Erie, and this partnership marks a significant step forward," said Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. "In Ohio, we have all the right assets to make offshore wind energy successful, including an innovative workforce and the manufacturing strengths that would allow us to build all the component parts for wind turbines. This partnership will not only advance offshore wind technologies, it will also advance Ohioís economy. We are eager to continue the stateís strong collaboration with GE and LEEDCo as we pursue this exciting, first-of-its-kind initiative for Lake Erie."

"Offshore wind has the potential to create thousands of new jobs in Ohio and become a major source of economic growth. Working with LEEDCo we have made significant progress to make offshore wind in Lake Erie a reality," said Vic Abate, vice president of GE's Renewable Energy business, and also president of AWEA's Board of Directors. "We look forward to installing our next-generation offshore, direct drive wind technology in Lake Erie. GE is committed to working with LEEDCo to achieve its vision of creating an offshore wind sector in Northern Ohio and the Great Lakes region."

"LEEDCo is pleased to be working with GE and we value the equipment efficiency, product innovation, and commercial acumen they bring to the partnership," said Dr. Lorry Wagner, president of LEEDCo. "Together, we aim to develop a cost-effective approach for installing and maintaining offshore wind turbines with the highest possible availability. We are confident that as the GE product line develops and our methodologies mature, the combination will promote a self-sustaining and growing market for offshore wind in Lake Erie and the Great Lakes, providing economic opportunity and emissions-free energy for Northern Ohio."