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How Colorado Wind Turbines Help GE Innovate

 How Colorado’s wind potential gives GE engineers the perfect conditions for evaluating wind turbines

Validate new blade designs

Find superior ways for wind turbines to handle strong gusts of wind

Develop software that can make wind turbines in general even more efficient



Maybe they should be called the “Windy Mountains” and not the “Rocky” ones. Boulder, Colorado has significant wind potential and can see wind gusts of up to 100 miles an hour—but for GE wind turbine engineers, this is nothing but good news. This wind potential creates the perfect conditions for evaluating wind turbines—and there’s one in particular that’s played a big role in helping both GE and U.S. Department of Energy engineers.

It’s a 3 MW turbine originally developed by Alstom, the French company acquired by GE in 2015. After it was certified by GE, a plan was devised to use the intense Colorado wind environment to experiment on the turbine. A GE team is working to validate new blade designs, find superior ways for wind turbines to handle strong gusts of wind and develop software that can make wind turbines in general even more efficient.

As time progressed, the turbine helped GE develop several innovations that are widely used on wind turbines today. One important research project involves a load damper—in other words, a way to help wind turbines deal with sudden bursts of wind. The learnings from this wind turbine in Colorado helped inform the technology developed for the Haliade-X, the world’s largest offshore wind turbine. Another innovation from Colorado wind turbines was a Lidar system (that is, “light detection and ranging”)—allowing a turbine to read wind speeds up to 30 seconds before a gust hits, and sending that data to controls software that can help adjust the turbine to mitigate the intensity of the gust.

In 2018, GE ended the 3-megawatt turbine’s eight-year research effort. Where is the helpful Colorado wind turbine today? Its blades will be shipped to Mexico, where they’ll have a new life spinning new generators, and the nacelle will keep its training role at its new location at a GE wind energy learning center.

Learn more about wind power in Colorado and GE’s wind power services by contacting us today.

Read the full story at GE Reports.