GE’s first permanent magnet generator leaves factory in France

The completed permanent magnet generator (PMG) is the first generator out of the series of 300 generators to be manufactured in GE’s Offshore Wind Factory in Saint-Nazaire, France.

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GE Power Conversion (Massy, Essonne, France) has successfully completed manufacturing the first serial permanent magnet generator (PMG) in GE Renewable’s offshore wind factory in Saint-Nazaire, which was inaugurated in late 2014. The factory is set up to have a capacity of manufacturing 100 generators per year.

As the first series, 300 generators are to be manufactured on-site. The first recently completed generator is to be installed in GE’s HaliadeTM 150-6MW offshore wind turbine in Denmark. The turbine’s power yield is 15 percent higher than that of other same-generation wind turbines, each is capable of supplying 5,000 households annually. The power supplied by these turbines will become increasingly cost-effective as the volume of generators coming out of the Saint-Nazaire factory increases.

This production site uses the air-cushion system that has been implemented to move generators within the site. This way of manufacturing eliminates the need of cranes within the factory, which reportedly drives down the infrastructure costs. The site is also equipped with a test bench, ensuring every generator coming out of the assembly line is ready to be deployed.

“The factory in Saint-Nazaire is the first offshore wind manufacturing site in France. It is a milestone in the nation’s energy history. Now by leveraging technologies from different GE businesses—the GE Store, we are well positioned to bring clean offshore wind energy to the domestic market as well as export to regions beyond France where energy is needed,” said Frederic Maenhaut, renewables executive, GE Power Conversion.

The 6-MW PMG is one of the world’s largest generators ever built. Its direct drive system has no mechanical gearbox coupled to the generator. The generator is split into three electrical circuits. In the event of two circuits going offline, the high level of redundancy enables the turbine to continuously produce power even in “degraded” mode. This is a critical element for offshore wind power plants as stormy weather and treacherous water can delay repair work for days or weeks, needless to mention the very high maintenance expenditure.

“Offshore wind is gaining increasing competitiveness in the power mix, and GE is well positioned to serve this industry. We developed this PMG technology five years ago. It is ideal for offshore setting, helping increase wind turbines’ availability and optimizing energy production,” Maenhaut said.

GE’s PMGs have been previously selected to be installed on Block Island, America’s first offshore wind farm, which will help generate 30 MW of electricity in 2016.