Braving 8 hours of wind and rain to see a…wind turbine

Just got back from a slightly surreal trip to Germany yesterday to see wind turbine facility run by GE. The factory was basically in a small town called Salzbergen quite close to the Dutch border but getting their from the UK at a reasonable hour meant flying all the way to Hannover and then pegging it down an autobahn at 100mph in the wind and rain – for almost two hours to get to the site in time. 

Along for the ride was Tim Probert, deputy editor of Power Engineering International, who like me found the whole experience slightly unreal – 8 hours of traveling for what turned into a two hour meeting and factory tour.

I did get some useful stuff from it which I am writing up for BusinessGreen but the fact that we didn’t even get lunch for our 8 hour schlepp – just some German cakes and coffee – added insult to injury. However we did get our wind turbine – albeit a little desk mounted one with no practical purpose apart from too look nice. 

On the plus side, we did get to see just how much Germany has fell in love with the turbine – there were stacks of the things all up and down the road from Hannover to Salzbergen which I managed to get some OK shots of – despite the wind, the rain and the 100mph we were doing.

BusinesGreen: GE warns of turbulence ahead for turbine production

US engineering giant General Electric (GE) yesterday warned that rising steel prices and turmoil on the financial markets will have a negative impact on its fast expanding wind turbine business.

Speaking at an event in Germany to publicise its latest turbine, GE Energy’s global sales leader for wind energy, Mete Maltepe, said that the rising cost of steel would drive up the price of turbines.

“There is a lot of steel in our turbines, so the cost of steel going up makes turbines more expensive,” he said. “It is a major issue for the industry,”

The price of steel has risen by about 30 per cent this year, driven largely by increased demand for raw materials from developing countries such as China. In 2007, the Chinese economy accounted for 37 per cent of global steel consumption, according to a report from financial services group Atradius.

But despite the negative impact that steel pricing could have on its turbine business, GE’s Maltepe added that at least the wind industry was not greatly affected by the rising cost of other commodities such as fuel. “We have a world where all commodities are going up including fuel,” he said. “Wind at least has free fuel and we don’t get affected twice.”

Maltepe made the comments at GE’s centre for renewables in Salzbergen, Germany, close to the Dutch border, where GE unveiled its latest turbine, the GE Energy 2.5xl, which it claims has been developed specifically for the European market.

More on BusinessGreen

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