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US firm opens first of two service centres to accelerate wind energy in Brazil

GE wind service centres aim to help build local expertise for customers in Brazil and develop skills for next generation of wind energy engineers

The wind energy facility is the first of two service centres set to help build up wind power development in Brazil

A leading US wind turbine supplier has opened a service centre in Brazil to accelerate wind energy development in the BRIC country. The wind energy facility is the first of two Brazil service centres to open this year, which aim to put "advanced technology and local expertise to work" for customers. The wind energy service centres also aim to act as a platform to build skills for the next generation of wind power engineers in the BRIC country.

The wind energy service centre in Bahia, as well as a second set to open in Rio Grande do Norte later this year, will employ more than 100 service technicians.

GE said the wind centres, which represent a USD 1.5m investment in Brazil, will enable the company to more quickly and efficiently put local expertise to work for customers, responding to rapidly growing demand for advanced wind energy services.

Engineers at the new facilities will monitor wind operations and weather, as well as dispatch local technicians to wind farms to perform maintenance and maintain a store of essential parts.

GE said it will also leverage the new service centres to partner with Brazilian technical schools to "teach the next generation of wind energy engineers and technicians the skills they will need to succeed in this growing industry."

"The opening of this wind services centre builds on GE's near century long relationship with Brazil," said Jean-Claude Robert, general manager of Latin America for GE's renewable energy business. "We are proud to be working closely with the people of Bahia to provide the technology and services necessary to pursue the country's significant wind energy opportunities. Our new service centre expands our already deep local expertise and enables us to more efficiently provide industry-leading service to our customers."

The wind energy news from GE follows the US power company announcing this month that it is helping develop solar energy in China. RET reported on June 27 2013 the company's power conversion business had joined up with two Chinese firms to drive forward solar energy in China.

Hands-on wind power learning

Engineers and technicians at the Bahia service centre will focus their work on the energy company's 1.6-82.5 and 1.85-82.5 wind turbines. GE said the wind turbines incorporate cutting-edge software and other mechanical components that allow for increased power production while maintaining a 20-year design life.

In building up skills for the next generation of engineers, GE said it will also provide hands-on learning opportunities at the service centres led by in-country trainers, donate equipment to technical schools, form new internship opportunities and open GE's leading internal trainings for wind energy to qualifying students.

"Wind is an increasingly critical part of Brazil's energy mix," said Aldo Vacaflores, services leader for Brazil, GE Power & Water. "The country has enjoyed tremendous expansion of the wind industry over the past few years and GE's new service centre will help our customers put wind to work in smarter and more efficient ways while expanding the country's corps of trained wind professionals."