Already the world’s largest wind turbine market, China is projected to grow its capacity by an additional 500 percent — growing from 25 gigawatts in 2009 to a whopping 150 gigawatts by 2020. That aggressive wind development plan comes as China’s overall electricity demand is growing at a rate of 12 percent per year. To help make that renewables growth possible, GE and a subsidiary of Harbin Power Equipment Company on September 27 announced that they’re forming a joint venture to manufacture and supply a range of GE-designed wind turbines for land-based, near-shore and offshore applications in China’s $13 billion wind market.

 

Tough stuff: The new JV will produce a 3.5-megawatt “direct drive” turbine. Technologies that eliminate the traditional gearbox found in most turbines are ideal for offshore wind farms where repairs can be difficult and expensive due to harsh ocean conditions. Popular Science magazine recently featured GE’s latest technology, the advanced 4-megawatt gearless turbine, which is pictured above. Click the link to see an expanded view of the turbine and how it works. Illustration: popsci.com

Deployment of offshore wind turbines will be the starting point of the JV with plans to develop a 3.5-megawatt wind turbine using GE’s direct-drive technology acquired from ScanWind. Under the new joint venture, Harbin will own 51 percent and GE 49 percent of the company. As part of the overall wind partnership, Harbin also is purchasing a 49 percent interest in the existing GE Shenyang Wind factory, which will continue to manufacture land based wind turbines. The work on near shore turbines will be for wind farms on land within three kilometers of the nearest shoreline, or lying on the water within 10 kilometers of the shore.

With the average wind turbine tipping the scales at approximately 200 to 400 short tons — and incorporating about 8,000 components — the ability to reduce transportation costs by making turbines in local markets for local markets is gaining steam in both the U.S. and in overseas markets. In March, GE announced that it’s investing $450 million to produce the offshore wind technology at plants in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden and Germany as Europe’s demand for offshore wind is expected to grow by 70 percent.

The September 27 joint venture in China is part of GE’s company-to-country strategy — seen in deals with countries such as Brazil and Saudi Arabia — in which GE looks for ways to provide long-term, scalable solutions. It follows recent deals in China for high-speed rail, coal gasification, and aircraft systems. GE and Harbin have previously partnered to provide 9FA heavy-duty gas turbines and related services in China and over the last half century, GE has supplied China with more than 270 gas turbines, 70 steam turbines, more than 300 hydro turbines and 935 wind turbines.

* Read today’s announcement

Learn more in these GE Reports stories and videos:
* “$450M manufacturing investment powers offshore wind
* “GE’s offshore technology expands with ScanWind buy
* “Bolze at CERA: Driving toward a clean energy economy
* “China deals span coal, high-speed rail & locomotives
* “GE jet engine joint venture to power China’s new plane
* “Joint aviation venture with China to create 200 US jobs
* China’s new C919 jet picks GE partnership for avionics