GE (NYSE: GE), French developer and energy producer Valorem SAS, as well as BL Finance have officially opened a new wind farm in the Picardy Region, north of Paris, on November 27, 2009, marking the first project in France to feature GE’s most advanced wind turbine technology. The installation will help the co-operators, Valorem and Sofivent Développement, a BL Finance subsidiary, to efficiently produce renewable energy for local power needs.

The new project supports France’s target to produce 23 percent of its power from renewable energy sources by 2020. In its latest renewable energy plan, the French Ministry for Sustainable Development set an objective to generate 25,000 MW of its power through wind energy by 2020, where 19,000 MW would be generated by onshore wind farms.

The European Union currently has a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, while reaching a 20 percent share of renewable sources in energy consumption. The European Union has set national targets that member states are trying to reach.

For this new project, eight of GE’s 2.5-MW wind turbines are operating at two sites, in the villages of Laucourt and Beuvraignes in the Picardy region. The region is particularly well suited for the development of wind farms, thanks to high wind potential and large agricultural areas where wind turbines can be easily installed. More than 400 megawatts of wind energy already are being produced in the region, accounting for approximately 25 percent of Picardy’s residential electricity consumption, according to Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables, the French renewable energy union.

With a rotor diameter of 100 meters, the 2.5xl is the largest GE wind turbine available for onshore applications. “The increase in the size of wind turbine-generators has been a key success factor, enabling us to maximize the energy yield per erected wind turbine,” said Jean-Yves Grandidier, president of Valorem Group. “The increased output capacity and the proven reliability of GE’s wind turbine technology were major factors in our selection of the 2.5xl machines for this important project.”

According to the customer’s wind measurement, the project is estimated to generate annually more than 55,000 MWh of renewable electricity for the power grid of the French utility, EDF. The wind turbines feature GE’s advanced grid integration technology, including Low Voltage Ride-Thru, enabling the machines to meet the latest stability and availability standards of French power distribution networks.

“We’re pleased that important players in the European wind industry such as Valorem show confidence in the reliability and high performance of our 2.5xl wind turbine technology,” said Bilal Natour, France’s sales leader for GE Power & Water. “This technology supports our ongoing commitment to help France and the rest of Europe meet its renewable energy targets over the next several years.”

In addition to its contribution toward a low carbon economy, wind farm development represents a significant source of income for small communities in France, providing income diversification for farmers and service and maintenance jobs.

Since the beginning of the year, electricity produced by wind farms in France has grown up by 22 percent1. The French territory still has great potential of available fields for future onshore wind farms. Higher wind turbine capacities such as the 2.5xl are key on this growing segment.

Nearly 200 of GE’s 2.5-megawatt wind turbines have been installed in nine countries in both 50- and 60-hertz configurations and have compiled more than one million operating hours. In addition, GE has received commitments to provide 2.5xl wind turbines over the next year that will total more than one gigawatt of capacity.

The 2.5xl represents GE’s most advanced wind turbine technology in terms of efficiency, reliability and grid connection capabilities. It is designed to yield the highest annual energy production in its class and builds upon the success of GE’s 1.5-megawatt wind turbine, the world’s most widely deployed wind turbines with more than 12,000 now installed.

Most of the 2.5xl wind turbines for European projects are manufactured at GE’s wind turbine facility in Salzbergen, Germany, which is also GE’s European Headquarters for renewables. GE’s aim is to help meet Europe’s growing demand for cleaner, wind-generated electricity.

Source: GE Energy

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