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UPDATE 2-GE to invest $453 mln in European offshore wind
* Aims to mass produce 4MW offshore wind turbine by 2012
* Expects hundreds of turbine sales a year until 2020
* Manufacture and sales to be mainly in Britain, Germany
(Adds timescales, sales targets, country investment details)
OSLO/LONDON, March 25 (Reuters) - General Electric Co. (GE.N) will invest 340 million euros ($453 million) in offshore wind technology in Europe until 2020, it said on Thursday.
Around 110 million euros will be invested in British turbine manufacturing and 105 million euros in engineering and production facilities in Germany, with a target of mass producing GE's new 4 megawatt (MW) offshore wind turbine as early as 2012.
"Most of the (offshore wind) projects will be in 2012 to 2015 so you will see mass production within that timeframe," Victor Abate, Vice-President of Renewables at GE Energy told Reuters at a press briefing in Oslo.
Abate said he expected sales of hundreds of turbines per year until 2020 with most of the sales and manufacturing in Britain and Germany.
GE also said Britain's budget announcements on a 60 million pound ($89.52 million) offshore wind infrastructure port development competition on Wednesday was key to the company's investment decision. [ID:nLDE62N2E1]
"We believe offshore wind has a bright future here in the UK and are delighted that the UK government yesterday committed to further developing this important sector," Magued Eldaief, managing director of GE Energy UK said.
Climate Change and Energy Secretary Ed Milliband said: "GE's investment will create new jobs and help the supply chain flourish, reinforcing the UK as the destination for offshore wind investment."
The rest of the investment comprises 75 million euros in Norway for testing wind turbines and 50 million euros in Sweden on a design facility.
"Today's announcement is the beginning of our offshore wind effort where technology and network of suppliers is located in Europe, which is where we see the biggest growth potential," GE said.
Billions have been spent on installing onshore wind farms across Europe over the past decade in an effort to decarbonise power generation, with Denmark and Spain already producing half their electricity from wind. (Reporting by Gwladys Fouche and Aasachristine Stoltz in Oslo and Kwok W. Wan in London; editing by James Jukwey)
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