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Norway, Sweden to get giant GE wind turbines

Five sites will be getting 4-megawatt offshore wind turbines, whose rotor diameter is equivalent to the length of a football field, including the end zones.

GE wind turbine
An offshore wind demonstration farm with GE turbines. General Electric

General Electric has plans to install four 4-megawatt wind turbines off the coast of Norway, and one in Sweden.

In March GE said it would invest $450 million over the next 10 years to expand its European wind turbine business. At that time the company said its investment would include plans to install its largest megawatt offshore wind turbines to date, but few details were released.

On Tuesday, GE announced that four 4-megawatt wind turbines will be installed in Rogaland County, on the southwest coast of Norway, in conjunction with the Norwegian energy companies Statoil and Lyse. Assuming that environmental impact studies and funding agreements are successful, GE predicts the turbines will be up and running in 2012.

Another 4-megawatt turbine will be installed in Sweden's famed Gothenburg Harbor, and this one could be up and running as soon as 2011. The turbine is being designed to fit the needs of the nearly onshore site, according to GE. That project is being done in partnership with Gothenburg Energy.

GE's 4-megawatt wind turbine has a 110-meter rotor diameter (but please don't call it a wingspan). For comparison at just how large that is, an NFL-regulation football field, including the end zones, is about 109.73 meters.

As with GE's 2.5-megawatt wind turbines, the giant 4-megawatt turbines have direct drive trains that require no gearboxes.

Wind turbine manufacturers like Siemens and GE have moved in the direction of giant wind turbines to maximize efficiency for a given space since offshore areas are limited and many of the sites are already under development. Those big wind turbines can also harvest energy from low wind speeds, opening up more options for where the turbines might be placed.