November 27 (Renewables Now) - General Electric (NYSE:GE) said Monday the new LM Wind Power offshore turbine blades plant in Cherbourg, France now has more than 100 employees, with production on track to start in January.
The plant will be able to produce the world's longest blade, of 107 metres (351 ft), for GE's Haliade-X 12 MW wind turbines. It will enter the blade prototyping phase early next year.
The first blade made at Cherbourg will undergo indoor testing at the ORE Catapult Research & Development Center in Blyth, UK. The following three will be installed on a Haliade-X 12MW prototype by mid-2019. The site for the giant turbine is yet to be determined.
Back in June, GE said it was looking to hire about 100 employees this year for the plant. At the time it already had about 10 working at the factory. A group of 30 started on September 10, followed by a second group on October 22. The training programme for all includes a week of theory, a week of practice on an actual piece of a wind turbine blade mold, and then a month at LM Wind Power sites abroad, such as in Spain, Denmark, Poland and even Canada.
In parallel to the development of the LM 107.0 P blades in Cherbourg, the Offshore Wind teams at GE are engaged with the assembly of the first two Haliade-X nacelles at Saint-Nazaire, France.
LM Wind Power president and chief executive Duncan Berry said in June that during periods of full production the plant could have more than 550 employees. GE said yesterday that 34% of the employees it now has in Cherbourg are women.