General Electric has announced plans to invest 340 million Euros in northern Europe’s offshore wind industry by 2020.

The investment will be spread among four countries, the UK, Germany, Sweden and Norway, and will boost GE’s capabilities in manufacture, engineering and services for the sector. The main aim is to develop GE’s next generation of wind turbine. At 4 MW it will be the largest operated by the company and geared specifically towards the needs of offshore generation. It will be based firmly on the technology brough to GE by its llatest acquisition in this area, the turbine manufacturer and developer Scanwind.

“Offshore wind will play a vital role in meeting the growing global demand for cleaner, renewable energy and has a bright future here in Europe,” said Ferdinando Beccalli-Falco, president of GE International. “These investments will position us to help develop Europe’s vast, untapped offshore wind resources, while also creating new jobs for both GE and our suppliers.” This new policy of GE’s marks something of a change in its atttiude to offshore technology after several years of concentrating solely on the onshore market.

€110 million will be spent expanding GE’s manufacturing and engineering base in the UK to support the project, with some engineering also expected to be carried out in the country.

The investment is expected to create around 1900 jobs andcan be considered a success for the UK government’s infrastructure competition, aimed at supporting the development of renewable energy in the country.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said: “We’re creating the right conditions and incentives to maximise the potential of our wind resource. Now we have another leading player entering the offshore wind market as a result.

“GE’s investment will create new jobs and help the supply chain flourish, reinforcing the UK as the destination for offshore wind investment.”

€75m and €50m respectively are likely to be invested in Norway and Sweden, with operations in the Scandinavian countries geared towards the high-tech end of R&D, creating some 150 jobs.

Germany, with its international reputation in the field, will see an investment of €105m in a new engineering centre in Hamburg, as well as expansion of its existing manufacturing facilities in Salzbergen.