Global Wind Power: A New GE Wind Turbine for Brazil

GE Energy has a large presence in Brazil – over 300 GE wind turbines are now installed in the country and last year, GE secured agreements to supply wind and gas turbines for projects that will produce 1.4 gigawatts (GW) of electricity.

With the market growing, it made sense for GE to adapt its world-leading 1.5 MW series turbine.

“Focusing on performance, reliability, efficiency and multi-generational product evolution, the 1.85-82.5 is an excellent match for Brazil’s growing wind energy requirements,” said Victor Abate, vice president-renewables for GE Power & Water.

GE’s new turbine is designed to increase annual energy production by eight percent at 9 m/s, meaning that fewer wind turbines will generate the same amount of energy. This helps drive profits for wind developers, and helps keep wind energy economically viable.

The faithful breezes of Brazil make it an ideal place to capture wind energy and, in recent years, the country’s 4,600-mile coast has been dotted with turbines. Today, GE rolled out a new turbine, the 1.85-82.5, that is designed to make the most of these conditions.

“Brazil has unique conditions in a couple of ways,” says Lauren Thirer, wind product strategy leader at GE. “It has strong and steady winds, but they are not turbulent. That means you want a turbine that can capture a lot of wind, but you know it won’t undergo all the stresses normally associated with those very high wind speeds.”

Renewable energy is well established in Brazil. About 90 percent of Brazil’s electricity is produced through hydroelectric dams, and Brazil is the world’s second-largest producer of hydropower, behind China.

But drastically reduced rainfall and drought in the dry season occasionally renders hydropower ineffective. In the past, drought has forced the Brazilian government to impose energy quotas to conserve energy. To ensure the abundance of electricity, Brazil has been ramping up wind installations. Today, the country is one of the world’s most promising markets for onshore wind energy. By 2020, it is expected that Brazil’s installed wind capacity will exceed 15 GW.

In 2011, half of all new wind power projects in Central and South America were in Brazil, and wind is the country’s fastest growing source of new power generation.

Brazil also has a unique method to develop new energy projects. Called a reverse auction system, the government auctions off power projects to the developers that can do it for the lowest possible price.

“It’s an extremely competitive and efficient market,” says Thirer. “They are getting their wind power at a low price, which makes it more important to have the right product. There is no wiggle room for messing up.”