As in American soccer, Siemens Gamesa (SG) has blocked GE's progress in the offshore wind sector in the United States, which has numerous renewable complex projects on its two ocean coasts. A ruling by William Young, a federal judge in Boston, prevents the US multinational from manufacturing and selling in the US the Haliade-X wind turbine, the largest wind turbine on the market because it can reach a unit capacity of 13 MW to 14 MW.
Judge Young ruled that GE had used an SG patent for the construction of the turbine without its permission and without paying royalties, and therefore ordered GE to pay up to 30,000 dollars (the same amount in euros, due to the current equivalence between the two currencies) for each MW generated by this equipment.
With one exception, GE will be able to supply in the United States the Haliade-X turbines that it had already contracted for two very advanced projects, although paying the aforementioned compensation to the Siemens Energy subsidiary. The judge understands that he cannot block these contracts because of their impact on job creation and the reduction of polluting emissions.
One of them is the Vineyard Windm renewable complex that Iberdrola and its partner CIP are building off the coast of Massachusetts. It will have a capacity of 800 MW, which will represent a compensation of 24 million euros for Siemens Gamesa. Equipped with 62 turbines of the GE model, the group presided by Ignacio Galán will invest 2,500 million in its construction, which will employ 3,600 people.
The plant, 15 miles south of the well-known town of Martha's Vineyard, is scheduled to start operating next year. It will meet the electricity demands of 400,000 homes and prevent the discharge of more than 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide per year (equivalent to the emissions of 325,000 vehicles).
GE also has orders for the Haliade-X turbine from Orsted at two of the Norwegian multinational's offshore wind farms off the Atlantic coast. One of them, Ocean Wind, already has the wind turbines, located 15 miles off the coast of New Jersey. When operational, it will be able to generate 1,100 MW (33 million compensation for SG). In total, the company based in Zamudio (Bizkaia) will receive 57 million euros from GE for these concepts.
But the impact for the US multinational goes beyond this in a market that is boiling for the wind resources of the two coasts of the United States, which at the moment only has one marine complex in activity, the Block Island complex with only 30 MW of generation, off the coast of Rhode Island.
Some analysts estimate that the ruling could affect GE in future projects valued at 16.3 billion. Its only way out is if it has the technological capability to introduce innovations in the Haliade-X equipment without resorting to SG's patents. In its order book, GE has firm orders for 11,000 MW on account of this turbine.
GE has stated that it is "exploring" other versions of the turbine without SG patents. The U.S. multinational is considering filing an appeal of the ruling, which does not apply outside the United States. Because "we are considering all legal alternatives to ensure that we can continue to contribute to the development of offshore wind" in the country where the multinational has its headquarters and management center. GE is pleased that "we can move forward with the Ocean Wind and Vineyard 1 projects with the current design" of the wind turbine. In short, "we are confident in the technical and legal alternatives at our disposal".
For its part, SG has expressed "satisfaction" with the ruling of the Massachusetts District Court. They accept the decision that the turbine can be used in these two renewable complexes in the United States, with the corresponding indemnities, and add that "we will continue to protect our intellectual property" in the offshore and other areas.