General Electric filled out its offshore wind turbine portfolio by buying ScanWind, which makes direct-drive turbine components.
GE on Monday said that it has completed the acquisition, which was valued at a about $18.5 million. ScanWind, which is headquartered in Trondheim, Norway and has a design center in Karlstad, Sweden, is now testing 11 turbines off the Norwegian coast.
ScanWind makes a drive train that eliminates the need for a gear box in a wind turbine. Direct drive turbines typically add cost to turbines but they are gaining use in small turbines and other places where low maintenance is required.
GE invested in the technology specifically for use in offshore wind turbines. "(Reliability) is particularly important for the growth of the offshore wind industry, where project economics are strongly affected by turbine design and reliability," Vic Abate, vice president of renewable energy at GE Energy, said in a statement.
With many of the best locations for land wind farms spoken for, offshore wind farms offer some of the best wind power potential. There are a handful of offshore wind farm proposals in the U.S. including the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts and a project off the coast of Delaware.
Citing industry estimates, GE said that offshore wind is projected to balloon from an installed base of 1.5 gigawatts in 2008 to 30 gigawatts by 2020, driven by European renewable energy mandates and falling wind power prices. A typical nuclear or coal power plant has a generating capacity of about one gigawatt, or 1,000 megawatts.