Standing at a height of 853 feet, Haliade-X is as tall as the Transamerica Pyramid building, the second tallest structure in San Francisco, California. Its blades are 350 ft long, which is 50 ft more than the height of the Statue of Liberty.
The new model is rated at 12 megawatts (MW). GE spokespersons said the design will outperform existing offshore wind turbines by 45 percent.
A single Haliade-X unit will generate 67 gigawatt hours (GWh) each year, enough to power 16,000 households. A 750-MW wind farm comprised of these turbines could provide renewable energy to one million homes.
"We want to lead in the technologies that are driving the global energy transition," stated John Flannery, the CEO of General Electric.
According to GE, Haliade-X will have a capacity factor of 63 percent. This is five to seven points more than the benchmark in the wind turbine industry.
The higher the capacity factor of a turbine, the more energy it produces per MW installed. Each percentage point in capacity factor translates into seven million U.S. dollars. (Related: Over 100 cities worldwide are now using at least 70% renewable energy.)
"The renewables industry took more than 20 years to install the first 17 GW of offshore wind," said Jérôme Pécresse, president and CEO of GE Renewable Energy.
"Today, the industry forecasts that it will install more than 90 GW over the next 12 years. This is being driven by lower cost of electricity from scale and technology."
According to Pécresse, the Haliade-X is a mark of GE's involvement in the offshore wind energy sector. The new wind turbine will encourage even greater growth by setting a new benchmark for cheap, renewable energy.
Companies like GE are racing to develop huge offshore wind turbines that can capture more wind and generate more electricity. According to an article on Futurism.com, the taller a turbine, the more efficiently it produces energy.
Each extra meter translates into 0.5 to one percent increase in energy output. That's because it encounters less turbulence and stronger winds at higher altitudes.
Wind farm developers are very keen on this development. If a single turbine can produce more power, a farm could be served by a smaller number of nacelles.
Smaller farms would require less capital, an attractive point for potential investors. The project would also enjoy reduced risk of failure and faster installation cycle time.
Furthermore, a small number of wind turbines would be easier and cheaper to run and maintain. Reducing the expenses of developers and operators will ultimately drive the cost of wind energy down for customers.
GE currently offers six-MW wind turbine units. The Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island uses these models.
According to clean energy news site Greentech Media, GE has fallen behind in the offshore wind turbine race. The company's existing models cannot keep up with the ones built by rivals MHI Vestas and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy.
That could explain why GE is banking on Haliade-X to even the gap. The company plans to invest more than $400 million in the development of the new turbine during the next three to five years.
If all goes to plan, the first power generating unit will be ready for public demonstration in 2019. GE expects to ship the initial run of Haliade-X wind turbines in 2021.
Keep track of the latest news on wind energy at Power.news.