GE Invests $452M In European Wind Business

General Electric to invest $452.2 million to expand offshore wind business in Europe, including developing manufacturing plant in U.K. for 4-megawatt ScanWind turbine.

NEW YORK (AP) -- General Electric Co. said Thursday it plans to invest euro340 million ($452.2 million) to expand its offshore wind business in Europe, including developing a manufacturing plant in the U.K. for its 4-megawatt ScanWind turbine.

The turbine, the largest in GE's fleet, will be developed and tested in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden and Germany and will likely result in creating about 2,250 new jobs by 2020.

About 110 million euros ($147 million) will fund manufacturing in the U.K. while 105 million euros ($140.3 million) will support a new engineering center in Hamburg, Germany. GE will invest 75 million euros ($100.2 million) in a testing site in Norway and 50 million euros ($66.8 million) in expanding facilities in Sweden.

"These announcements lay the foundation for us to begin scaling our offshore business, technology and supply chain locally in Europe where we see the greatest growth opportunity," said Victor Abate, vice president of renewable energy for GE Power & Water.

GE will incorporate technologies gained in its acquisition of ScanWind and feature GE technology that eliminates the need for gearboxes.

The European Wind Energy Association expects that Europe's offshore wind sector will grow more than 70 percent in 2010, with continued growth forecast over the next several years. If all offshore wind projects currently in development are completed, they could produce 10 percent of the European Union's total electricity while avoiding 200 million tons of CO2 emissions each year.

Offshore wind is expected to significantly contribute to helping the EU reach its goal to have 20 percent of its energy produced from renewable resources by the year 2020. The European Commission has granted a total of euro4 billion in recent months to upgrade the EU's aging and fragmented gas and electricity networks and cut its dependence on Russian supplies. The funding will help integrate wind power in Europe and improve the operation of Europe's electricity markets.

Shares of GE rose 17 cents to $18.62 in afternoon trading.

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