A Boston judge this week ordered a permanent injunction against General Electric over a patent lawsuit with another major turbine producer over the Haliade-X wind turbine. GE has marketed it as the most powerful turbine on market, and it’s the type set to be used for the Vineyard Wind 1 project, which starts offshore construction in a few months out of the Port of New Bedford.
A jury in June found GE infringed on a Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) patent for turbine technology. Last month, both GE and SGRE (the plaintiff) agreed in a proposed ruling that Vineyard Wind 1 could be “carved out” of the permanent injunction, meaning the injunction would not apply to that project given how far along it is.
The judge agreed, but stated GE will be limited to the 62 turbines, regardless of any amendments to agreements between Vineyard Wind and GE, the ruling states.
The Light requested comment from GE and Vineyard Wind on any implications the 62-turbine limit could have on the project, particularly if a turbine fails or parts need to be replaced.
A GE Renewable Energy spokesperson answered in the affirmative when asked if the company would be able to replace any turbine parts that have issues.
The exact language of the ruling states it would not prevent GE from “making (e.g., manufacturing and assembling), using (e.g., installing, operating, repairing, maintaining, servicing, and replacing), or importing 62 (sixty-two) infringing Haliade-X turbines for the Vineyard Wind 1 Offshore Energy Project in accordance with the Turbine Supply Agreement and/or the Service and Maintenance Agreement.”
“For avoidance of doubt, the total number of Haliade-X wind turbines permitted under this Carve Out is limited to 62 (sixty-two) turbines, regardless of any amendments to the GE-Vineyard Wind 1, LLC Agreements,” the ruling continues.
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A Vineyard Wind spokesperson said by email that it is not an issue for the project when asked about the turbine limit and whether it would present issues if a turbine fails or parts need to be replaced.
Before the agreement, Vineyard Wind CEO Klaus Skoust Moeller told the court that the Vineyard Wind 1 project would not be built if it could not use the agreed on GE turbines.
“If the court issued such an injunction, the project would collapse,” wrote Moeller, noting it would take years to change the turbine supplier and redesign, recertify and re-contract the project.
Judge William G. Young of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts determined not only Vineyard Wind 1, but also Ocean Wind, slated for the New Jersey coast, would be excluded from the permanent injunction.
Young cited a United Nations report on the climate crisis in a memo on his judgment.
“…the world is currently facing a rapidly developing climate crisis,” he wrote. “Delaying largescale wind energy projects can impact efforts to combat this crisis.”
GE Renewable Energy in a written statement said it was “pleased” Ocean Wind and Vineyard Wind can move forward with the Haliade-X turbines, but that it disagrees with the injunction.
“Our customers are aware that we can and will explore other design options that enable us to bring the benefits of the Haliade-X to the U.S,” the statement read. “We’re exploring all legal options to ensure that we can continue to support the growth of offshore wind in the U.S., including an appeal of today’s ruling. We are fully committed to the U.S. offshore wind industry, to each of our ongoing projects, and remain confident in the legal and technical options available to us.”
A Siemens Gamesa spokesperson said the company welcomed the judgment.
“We understand the Court’s decision to carve out the Vineyard Wind and Ocean Wind 1 projects from the injunction, and we will continue to protect and defend our intellectual property and the innovations provided by Siemens Gamesa’s offshore wind turbines,” the statement read.
As part of the ruling, GE will be required to pay $30,000 per installed megawatt of Haliade-X turbines for the Vineyard Wind project (which equates to about $24 million for the 800 megawatts). GE, however, noted it is exploring an appeal of the ruling, per its statement.
Email Anastasia E. Lennon at firstname.lastname@example.org.