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GE guts offshore wind-power plans

General Electric, the U.S.-based industrial giant and leading manufacturer of wind-power turbines, is scaling back efforts to expand its presence in the offshore wind power market.

The rationale: there is no meaningful offshore wind market to speak of – at least not yet.

Given slower-than-expected industry growth, the offshore market may not mature as rapidly as many wind boosters once believed.

In 2009, GE moved into the offshore market by acquiring Norway’s ScanWind, a developer of direct-drive turbines, based in the city of Trondheim.

GE is considering laying off about 40 employees in Norway as it scales-back its offshore operations there, according to reports in Recharge. The company has also suspended plans to construct a manufacturing facility in the United Kingdom indefinitely.

The 4.1-113 four MW direct-drive offshore turbine developed by GE in Norway performs very well in shallow waters, but leaves a lot to be desired in deeper waters. As a result, GE has shifted its focus in the deep-water space to developing a 10-15 MW turbine using superconducting magnets, which has received addition funding support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Despite GE’s strategic shift, plans to deploy the first 4.1 MW prototype in Gothenberg harbor later this year are still on track.