GE and Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) of Northern Ohio have formed a long-term partnership beginning with the development of a fresh water offshore wind farm in the US.

Under the new partnership, GE will provide direct-drive wind turbines to LEEDCo’s 20MW offshore wind project in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie.

The LEEDCo-GE partnership builds on the momentum of a four-year effort by The Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force and other partners in Ohio to establish an offshore wind industry on Lake Erie, leveraging the region’s strong manufacturing base, GE said.

To kick off the collaboration with LEEDCo, GE will provide offshore wind turbines and maintenance services for an initial 20MW wind farm. Upon its completion, targeted for late 2012, this project will be located off the shores of Lake Erie, near Cleveland, Ohio. This will be followed by subsequent projects with a long-term goal of 1,000MW in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie by 2020.

At the core of the Lake Erie Project is GE’s next generation wind turbine, a 4MW machine designed specifically for offshore deployment. As the largest wind turbine in GE’s fleet, it will incorporate direct-drive technology gained through the company’s acquisition of ScanWind. The 4MW wind turbine will feature GE’s advanced loads controls and aeroelastically tailored blade technology.

In addition to collaborating on the initial 20MW project, GE and LEEDCo said they will create a strategic plan to identify opportunities for cost reduction to make offshore wind energy in the Great Lakes economically viable. The companies will also work jointly on advocacy and public policy issues to increase support for offshore wind energy, and accelerate the growth of America’s offshore wind industry.

Lorry Wagner, president of LEEDCo, said: “Together, we aim to develop a cost-effective approach for installing and maintaining offshore wind turbines with the highest possible availability.

“We are confident that as the GE product line develops and our methodologies mature, the combination will promote a self-sustaining and growing market for offshore wind in Lake Erie and the Great Lakes, providing economic opportunity and emissions-free energy for Northern Ohio.”