With permits for a number of long-delayed French offshore wind projects yet to be granted, GE Renewable Energy is using spare capacity to build nacelles for its recently announced, 12-MW Haliade X.
GE Renewable Energy plans to use capacity at its St Nazaire facility to build two nacelles for the company’s 12-MW Haliade X offshore wind turbine while it waits to begin building a backlog of 1.4 GW of its 6-MW offshore turbines.
Two Haliade X nacelles will be built at the facility – which is currently empty – in the coming months. One is due to be shipped to the UK to the ORE Catapult testing facility in early 2019. The second will be assembled into a full prototype Haliade X unit for testing at an as yet undisclosed location.
GE hopes to install the prototype and begin testing it by mid-2019 in order to secure type certification. It hopes to begin deliveries of the huge Haliade X in 2021 and said it is bidding the massive offshore unit into multiple offshore wind projects around the world.
A nacelle unit for the 6-MW version of the Haliade arrived at the ORE Catapult facility in Blyth earlier in 2018 and recently started testing, but production of the 6-MW unit has come to a halt with installation of the turbines for the Merkur offshore windfarm in Germany. The last GE Haliade 150-6MW turbine was installed at the 396-MW Merkur offshore windfarm in the German North Sea earlier this month.
Recent production work on the 6-MW unit has been undertaken largely by contractors because of the uncertainties surrounding timelines for three French projects, Courseulles-sur-Mer, St-Nazaire and Fécamp, which have experienced long delays, partly as a result of the level of subsidy to be assigned to the projects, and partly as a result of lengthy delays in permits being secured for the projects.
A spokesperson for GE Renewable Energy told OWJ the company hoped the permits would be approved within months, which would enable the company to at last begin work on its backlog and ramp up production of the Haliade 150-6MW. Until then, work on the Haliade X will be the focus of activity at the production facility.
With the contractors now gone, how many fulltime employees GE might need to take on will depend on the rate at which the French projects finally get approval to proceed. Haliade turbines have also been selected for two French floating offshore wind demonstration projects, but these are not due to be built for some time.