GE Energy turbine sales to grow fivefold in Europe

MARSEILLE (Reuters) - GE Energy’s renewable arm aims to increase its sales of wind turbines to Europe fivefold in 2009 to 400 turbines, a senior executive said on Monday.

GE Energy, which entered the wind power arena in 2002 when it bought Enrons’ wind assets, also provides technologies for the coal, gas and nuclear sectors.

GE Energy has around 50 percent of the U.S. wind turbine market share with 12,000 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity installed.

The United States has the world’s largest share of wind power capacity.

“Last year we announced the introduction of our 2.5 MW machine which we think will adapt well in Europe,” Victor Abate, vice president for the renewables arm of GE Energy, told Reuters in an interview.

The company aims to increase capacity in Europe in 2009 by 800 MW, the size of a nuclear reactor, to 1,000 MW.

“And after that we see continued growth in Europe notably because of the EU’s legislation to source 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources,” he added.

The turbines will be dispatched in Spain, France, Germany Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Poland, Romania and Turkey.

Abate said it was hard to pin down how the financial turmoil would impact the sector but he was betting on the U.S. stimulus package to boost the sector.

The $787 billion U.S. stimulus package to halt the economy’s downward spiral, will also help revive the sector when it kicks in through tax breaks, financial incentives, loan guarantees and grants.

“Right now there is a lot of uncertainty,” Abate said, adding he expected his clients to start getting some of their grant funds in the second or third quarter of 2009.

“There are many factors in the air: the financial crisis, the capital crunch, the recession and now you have $800 billion in a stimulus package and an administration which is focused on alternative energies,” Abate added.

Editing by Sue Thomas