Great Lakes To Get Great Big Wind Turbines
Lake Erie will soon be dotted with five massive 4 MW wind turbines making it the first offshore freshwater wind farm in the continent.
The wind farm project, announced at the American Wind Energy Association’s annual WINDPOWER Conference in Dallas, will be a collaborative effort between General Electric (GE) and the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo). At peak efficiency, the wind farm will be capable of providing 20 MW of energy, enough to power 16,000 homes in the Northern Ohio region.
“Ohio’s greatest potential for creating wind energy is offshore in Lake Erie, and this partnership marks a significant step forward,” said Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. “
GE will fit the turbines with ScanWind technology which replaces standard gearboxes with an advanced drive train. ScanWind is a Scandinavian corporation which developed the technology and was acquired by GE in 2009.
“We look forward to installing our next generation offshore, direct drive wind technology in Lake Erie,” said Vic Abate, President of AWEA’s Board of Directors and Vice President of GE’s Renewable Energy. “GE is committed to working with LEEDCo to achieve its vision of creating an offshore wind sector in Northern Ohio and the Great Lakes region.”
The massive turbines, each weighing 225 tons, would stand 300 feet above the lake and be grouped approximately six miles or so off Cleveland’s shore.
The expected cost is projected to be $100 million. Financing terms for the venture are still incomplete. State and federal tax credits together with loans or grants may be needed. Half of the project’s expense will be the turbines themselves. The balance of the cost would cover purchase of the towers, foundations on the lake bottom, an underwater power line to the shore, and engineering expenses.
The 20 MW venture is just the initial phase. If the test phase is successful, LEEDCo would like to see the Lake Erie wind farm generating up to 1000 MW of energy by 2020.
“LEEDCo is pleased to be working with GE and we value the equipment efficiency, product innovation, and commercial acumen they bring to the partnership,” according to, President of LEEDCo, Dr. Lorry Wagner.
“Together, we aim to develop a cost-effective approach for installing and maintaining offshore wind turbines with the highest possible availability. We are confident that as the GE product line develops and our methodologies mature, the combination will promote a self-sustaining and growing market for offshore wind in Lake Erie and the Great Lakes, providing economic opportunity and emissions-free energy for Northern Ohio”, Wagner added.
The opportunity to spur Ohio’s job market is an added bonus. “In Ohio, we have all the right assets to make offshore wind energy successful, including an innovative workforce and the manufacturing strengths that would allow us to build all the component parts for wind turbines.” said Governor Strickland. “This partnership will not only advance offshore wind technologies, it will also advance Ohio’s economy. We are eager to continue the State’s strong collaboration with GE and LEEDCo as we pursue this exciting, first-of-its-kind initiative for Lake Erie.”
“This is not just about making power, it’s about creating jobs,” Wagner concurred.