EnergyWatch

GE snags order from under Vestas' nose

The US-based conglomerate has won a contract to supply and develop what will become the Southern Hemisphere's largest wind farm featuring more than 200 of GE's Cypress wind turbines.

Photo: PR GE Renewable Energy

A golden opportunity has fallen upon GW – in several senses.

Germany developer WestWind Energy's Australian subsidiary has nominated the US wind turbine maker as preferred supplier of up to 228 units of the 5 MW Cypress platform for the Golden Plains project, located in the state of Victoria. The wind farm will be installed in a series of stages from 2021 and from around 2025 will be the Southern Hemisphere's largest wind facility with upwards of 1 GW when fully operational, WestWind informs in a statement.

"GE brought its full capability to bear to secure preferred status on Golden Plains. We listened closely to WestWind Energy to ensure the right value levers were targeted for both the project and WestWind as the developer," writes David Lian, sales director GE Renewable Energy Onshore Wind in Australia.

The third candidate

This is the second time within a short period that GE lands an order for its Cypress machines from Australia. Two weeks back, the US company secured a supply contract for 240 MW for the Bango project in the neighboring state of New South Wales.

However, the preferred supplier nomination for Golden Plains is not only a larger catch, considering that the project is four times the size. GE has also succeeded in entering the foray from the sideline and snatching a project previously intended for another wind OEM.

When WestWind submitted its environmental impact report in May, it mentioned that the two equipment candidates were "Senvion's 3.6M140 model and Vestas' V150-4.2 MW". It should hardly come as a surprise that the insolvent German firm did not get the deal. But now GE has succeeded in pushing the Danish company out of the project.

Close cooperation

That push did not necessarily only happen by convincing the client of the Cypress turbines' superiority. For WestWind – which recently stated on its website that it is not affiliated with any wind turbine manufacturer and has recently installed units from both Goldwind and Senvion – has not only named GE preferred supplier. The US company has also entered the project as a co-developer.

"WestWind and GE will work closely together through the development phase to drive value for the project, including layout and grid connection optimization, building upon the strong existing relationship between the two companies," the company tells in the press release.

Wind turbines and more

The US industrial group has long involved itself in more aspects of wind turbines than just sales, installation and service. But whereas this was previously done through the Energy Financial Services (EFS) division, another business unit was set up with actual project development in mind.

GE is, however, far from the only wind OEM to pursue this line. Vestas is increasingly becoming involved in the same way – and with more and more transparency about its ambitions to once again expand its repertoire to include the possibility of entering projects as co-developer.

This is happening in, among other places, the US, Poland and Denmark, and with last year's acquisition of project developer Sowitec, Vestas opened the window for opportunities for a series of projects in Latin America. Although Vestas has also taken unconventional methods into use. In June, the Danish turbine producer bought a majority stake in the 700 MW Winterbourne project that will be a part of the 4 GW hybrid facility Walcha Energy Project.

English Edit: Daniel Frank Christensen

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