GE Energy’s newly-launched-in-Europe (although available in the USA since last year) 2.5xl units have been developed from its 1.5MW design, the main change being a rotor diameter increase to 100m. According to its makers this offers higher energy capture, reliability and efficiency. It employs a permanent magnet generator, to increase efficiency at low wind speeds, resulting in increased annual energy yield.

An integrated suite of controls and electronics provides a sophisticated set of advanced grid integration benefits similar to conventional power plants. These controls have been designed to enable wind turbine operators to meet the latest stability and availability standards of European distribution networks, ie to meet grid codes and stay on-line supporting the grid even during severe grid disturbances.

The nacelle and tower dimensions have been designed for advanced logistics, allowing for transportation and installation procedures comparable to standard 1.5 MW turbines, says GE. It represents, says GE, it’s most advanced wind turbine technology in terms of efficiency, reliability and grid connection capabilities. It has been designed to yield the highest annual energy production in its class and builds upon on the success of the 1.5 MW machine, the world’s most widely deployed unit.

Expanded facilities

To match expected demand – in October GE announced it has already received more than 1 GW in commitments for the 2.5xl – GE has expanded its wind turbine manufacturing facility in Salzbergen, Germany. The larger facility, part of a $100 million investment in the launch, will allow GE to ‘focus additional resources on meeting the strong demand for wind energy in Europe’. Recent orders include a contract to supply the machines for Wind Farm Serra in southern Italy, a project that will take that country a step closer to meeting its goal of becoming one of the leading producers of wind energy in Europe. Italy had more than 2 700 MW of installed wind capacity by the end of 2007, a 30% increase over the previous year, and its goal is to reach 12 GW by 2020, which could be met as early as 2015 if the present growth rate continues.

GE is supplying 12 of the 2.5xl turbines for the project, which is expected to be completed by June of 2009. The wind farm’s total rated capacity is 30 MW with an annual estimated generation of about 74 GWh, implying a capacity factor of around 28%.

‘GE has invested more than $100 million in launching its 2.5xl wind technology, services and expanding its Salzbergen facility’ said Victor Abate, vice president-renewables for GE Energy. ‘As GE’s European Renewable Energy Centre of Excellence, the Salzbergen site is the base for the serial production of the 2.5xl wind turbine, a high reliability machine specifically designed to meet the immediate requirements of Europe, where the lack of available land can constrain the size of projects.’ The Salzbergen plant expansion includes the addition of 28 000 m2 to the facility and adoption of LEAN six sigma manufacturing processes.

Since entering the wind business in 2002 with the purchase of Enron Wind, GE Energy has become the largest US supplier of wind turbines and one of the largest in the world. To date, more than 11 600 of its machines have been installed or committed for projects worldwide.