Europe's largest onshore wind farm expands with GE

General Electric
Tags: energy management

When the largest utility in Central Europe began building Europe’s largest onshore wind farm last year, GE was there, supplying 139 of its giant 2.5xl wind turbines. Now, with construction of the first phase well underway, GE Energy has inked a new deal to provide up to 101 additional turbines. When completed, the site will produce enough wind-generated electricity to meet the needs of more than 400,000 homes.

Thinking big: The 2.5xl turbine has a rotor diameter of 100 meters — or about the length of a football field. By comparison, its widely used 1.5-megawatt cousin has a rotor diameter of 70 to 77 meters. The 2.5xl turbine isn’t currently sold in the U.S., but GE will begin offering it to North American customers next year — with those units to be assembled in Pensacola, Fla.

The European Union currently has a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent while increasing renewable energy capacity 20 percent by the year 2020. To reach this objective, the EU has set national targets for each EU member state, based on the per capita GDP of each country. Conversely, in the U.S., current proposals before Congress call for just 3 to 6 percent of total U.S. electricity generation to be produced by renewables by 2012 — which is essentially equal to or below the status quo.

The first phase of the project –- Fantanele — and the second phase — Cogealac — are both located in Romania, which at the end of 2008 had only 10 megawatts of wind generation equipment installed, according to the European Wind Energy Association. But the new wind farm will increase that dramatically. When phase two is completed in 2011, the country will have a total capacity of 600 megawatts of wind power.

As Reuters says in its story on the deal, “The planned two-stage wind farm will be around twice the size of the next biggest onshore wind farm in Europe and marks one of the largest recent foreign investments in European Union newcomer Romania.” One of the key reasons that the new wind farm is located in Romania is due to the country’s new pro-renewables legislation. As Reuters notes, the government is “eager for renewable power plants to bring them closer to EU goals while at the same time replacing outdated communist-era energy infrastructure.”

The 2.5xl wind turbine represents GE’s most advanced wind turbine technology in terms of efficiency, reliability and grid connection capabilities. It is designed to yield the highest annual energy production in its class and builds upon the success of GE’s 1.5-megawatt wind turbine, the world’s most widely deployed wind turbine with more than 12,000 now installed.

Nearly 200 of GE’s 2.5-megawatt wind turbines have been installed in nine countries and have compiled more than one million operating hours. Most of GE’s 2.5xl wind turbines for European projects are manufactured at GE Energy’s wind turbine facility in Salzbergen, Germany, which recently was expanded to help meet Europe’s growing demand for wind turbines.

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