Offshore wind has arrived in America. Now, new government-funded research led by GE aims to grow it.
In October, GE Renewable Energy received an order from Vineyard Wind for the supply of Haliade-X turbines for Vineyard Wind 1, the first large-scale offshore wind installation in the United States. The project will be installed 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and will include 62 units of the 13-MW Haliade-X turbine. With power generation slated to begin in 2023, the project is designed to provide cost-competitive electricity to more than 400,000 homes and businesses in the state and is expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 1.6 million. tons per year.
Other large wind farms should follow. Last week, the National Offshore Wind Research & Development Consortium, a nonprofit organization funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), selected GE for two research and development projects to accelerate the development of offshore wind power.
The first prize is for the assembly of large turbine castings. “Developing the capacity to produce large castings for offshore wind turbines can help enable and accelerate job growth and create a more robust U.S. supply chain,” GE said in a press release.
The second prize will study the use of an autonomous inspection vessel (AIV) for offshore wind turbines. These vessels help monitor offshore wind fleets across a large region “with minimal or no downtime,” according to GE. They would embed camera technology and could be remotely controlled by satellite. This could help reduce inspection costs, minimize turbine downtime and increase worker safety.
GE designed the Haliade-X to evolve with the market, and it did. The initial model produced 12 megawatts – and even at that level a single rotation of the machine’s blades could generate enough power for a UK household for two days. But when engineers tested a Haliade-X prototype, they found it could be optimized to produce 13 MW; this turbine was selected not only for Vineyard Wind 1, but also for the first two phases of the Dogger Bank wind farm in the UK. Now an even more powerful version will be rated at 14 MW, and it is this machine that has just been selected for Dogger Bank C, the third phase of Dogger Bank. When all three phases are completed in 2026, Dogger Bank is expected to be the largest offshore wind facility in the world collectively.
GE engineers are also looking to take advantage of the strong winds off the Pacific coast of North America. But there, the continental shelf is subsiding rapidly, making stationary turbines a bigger challenge. Last year, designers at GE Research unveiled a proposed floating version of the Haliade-X that would use a large platform, similar to those used in oil drilling, to support the 720-foot-tall turbines.
“We appreciate the support of the National Offshore Wind Research & Development Consortium,” said Christy Guthman, general manager of sales and business operations for GE Renewable Energy for North America. “These awards reinforce the critical role that technological innovation will play in unlocking the full potential of offshore wind in the United States”
Image credit: GE Renewable Energy