GE’s biggest onshore wind turbine yet starts turning
GE Renewable Energy plans to commercially launch its new 5MW Cypress wind turbine platform in Germany with initial deliveries scheduled by the end of this year.
“We plan to launch it in Germany, but very quickly it has turned into global demand,” Sheri Hickok, general manager, global product development, onshore wind, at GE Renewable Energy, said on a conference call.
“You will hear more about customer orders very shortly. We’re very excited and confident from their feedback we’re moving in the absolute right direction with the Cypress platform,” she added, describing the feedback as “incredibly strong.”
GE on Wednesday announced its 5.3MW Cypress prototype had been successfully installed and is fully operational in Wieringermeer, the Netherlands.
The unit, which recently produced its first kilowatt of electric power, will be run-in in the coming months to validate performance and support the process of obtaining the “type certificate,” key step in commercialising the product.
Hickok noted that GE is field testing the prototype in a compressed timeframe “so we can learn and apply that learning back into the product before we commercialise it.” The Cypress platform will be available with multiple ratings and varying hub heights.
GE officials say the prototype’s milestone moves them closer to providing the global wind industry with a unit able to both reduce electricity cost and offer additional flexibility in terms of where turbines can be located.
It will enable a lower cost of electricity by matching each turbine solution to specific site needs, which is critical as wind power increasingly competes on price with other sources of power generation, they say.
The Cypress platform will be powered by a revolutionary two-piece blade design that makes it possible to use larger rotors and site the turbines in a wider variety of locations.
The annual energy production improvements from the longer rotors help to drive down levelised cost of electricity, and the proprietary blade design allows these larger turbines to be installed in locations that were previously inaccessible, according to GE.
“We have invented a new and effective solution for a blade in two parts,” asserted Duncan Berry, chief executive of LM Wind Power, part of GE Renewable Energy. Design input came from its parent company and GE Research.
Jérôme Pécresse, chief executive of GE Renewable Energy, added: “We are confident that Cypress, with its two-piece blade design, will be a game changer for the industry.”
The platform will also employ a novel system that GE is validating that will enable a small crane to be brought up within the turbine tower to allow swap-outs over time of larger nacelle components such as gearboxes, said Hickok. Rails inside the nacelle would help facilitate the physical swap.
“Those are pretty big cost advantages,” she said. Large cranes are not always available, and expensive to rent, transport to wind farms and operate when they are.