GE to switch to gearbox-free offshore wind turbines

General Electric has confirmed its future portfolio of offshore wind turbines is to stop using gear boxes in an attempt to improve reliability. Last September, The company had acquired Norway-based offshore wind turbine manufacturer ScanWind, which specialises in direct drive turbines that do not feature gear boxes, and is currently working on integrating its technology into its own offshore wind turbines.

Speaking to, Carlos Haertel, Managing Director of GE Global Research, said that ScanWind’s drive train technology would provide the basis for all the company’s future offshore wind turbines. "We will continue with gear boxes for our 1.5MW and 2.5MW (onshore) systems," he said. "But for offshore wind turbines a gearbox is not a good idea, there will not be further development of gearbox systems for offshore."

The company’s engineers are currently working on establishing its acquired technology as a platform for future offshore wind turbine designs. Haertel said the switch to drive train technologies, which boast fewer moving parts than gearboxes, would significantly increase the reliability of offshore wind turbines and reduce the maintenance costs that account for a large chunk of wind farms’ operational costs.

Offshore Wind Power

GE is a technology leader focused on providing a diverse portfolio of power generation technologies. Their recent acquisition of ScanWind represents an opportunity to increase their product offering to better serve the expanding offshore wind turbine segment. 

The new technology will give GE the ability to provide a direct drive, offshore wind turbine offering as an option to theirr customers. GE look forward to understanding theirr customers needs and challenges related to offshore wind energy development and to further developing this proven technology.