GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt is betting that wind power will be able to compete with conventional sources of energy, without government help.
At a company meeting held today at a gas turbine factory in Greenville, South Carolina, Immelt told employees that he’s ordered the company to increase production capacity of wind turbines. He said that costs have come down to the point at which the technology will be able to compete in many areas of the world without subsidies. He seemed confident that wind turbine orders will increase, even though the valuable production tax credits, which have driven a boom in wind turbine installation in the United States, are set to expire next year.
Immelt’s remarks were made at a two day event meant to highlight GE’s emphasis on advanced manufacturing. He noted that all of the massive gas turbines produced at the Greenville facility will be exported out of the United States this year, to places such as India and Saudi Arabia. On the production line was a recently completed steam and gas turbine system destined for Iraq. Earlier this year, GE announced that it would soon introduce a new power plant designed to help buffer variability from wind farms.
Immelt said that in some cases—such as with gas turbines and solar panels—it’s vital to co-locate manufacturing with research and development. His company has extensive testing facilities at the Greenville factory, which engineers can use to examine new designs before and after incorporating them into production turbines.