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Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) says it is now targeting Siemens' 3 MW direct-drive wind turbine for its Icebreaker offshore wind farm, a proposed five- to nine-turbine project seven miles off the coast of Cleveland in Lake Erie.

Originally, LEEDCo had selected GE Energy's 4.1 MW offshore wind turbines to power the wind farm. However, talks broke down between the parties after GE would not devote the resources necessary to make modifications in the turbine's rotor diameter, as LEEDCo had requested.

For its part, LEEDCo expects the switch in turbine units will provide cost reductions.

"This industry is hungry for cost reductions. While some of those will come tomorrow after the first U.S. projects, LEEDCo is looking at innovative ways to find them today," says Lorry Wagner, LEEDCo president. "By simply taking one step back to re-evaluate, we found a way to take two steps forward."

The technical details of the turbine are also significant, LEEDCo notes.

On the surface, Wagner says switching to a lower turbine nameplate would appear to produce less electricity. However, while the nameplate capacity on the Siemens turbine is smaller, the capacity factor and overall energy output will actually be greater, given the turbine is designed for Lake Erie’s Class II wind regime. Class I turbines are optimal for  North Sea and Atlantic wind conditions, Wagner notes.

Wagner also says the Siemens turbine will be entirely manufactured in the U.S. - a plus for job creation and lower transportation costs.

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