Since its May launch, wind power developers have committed a total of $2.7 billion – and placed more than 2 gigawatts (GW) in orders – for the 1.6-100 wind turbine from General Electric (GE). GE said at least 1,248 of the new turbines will be installed in North and South America over the next two years, and the 1.6-100 has been selected for 10 new projects in the past month alone. (Earlier this month, we reported that 94 of these turbines would be used at an Illinois wind-power project.)
What’s so special about the 1.6-100? It’s bigger, of course! GE has increased the rotor diameter on its 1.6 model from 82.5 meters to 100 meters – equivalent to 33 stories. This change increases the turbine’s swept area by 47 percent over previous turbines in its class. According to GE, the result is a 19 percent increase in annual energy production at wind speeds of 7.5 meters per second, making the 1.6-100 capable of performing at moderate (Class II) wind speed levels in a Class III (low-wind) environment.
This means that the turbine might make wind power development economical in areas not previously suitable for wind farms.
“The strong industry acceptance of our 1.6-100 wind turbine underscores the continuing confidence of our customers in our technology,” said Victor Abate, vice president-renewable energy for GE Power & Water. “We set out to change the industry, proving that with technology advancements, we could significantly improve the economics of wind. Our 1.6-100 has allowed our customers to develop wind farms in lower wind speed sites that were previously not viable.”