GE tries to turn clients on to renewable power package

General Electric Co. (GE) is trying to persuade developers that have bought its wind turbines to double up on clean energy by purchasing its solar panels as well.

Invenergy LLC is planning to install 23 MW of GE’s thin-film solar panels at a site adjacent to a 210 MW wind farm it operates in Illinois with GE turbines.

 It’s GE’s first solar order from a wind customer and, said Vic Abate, who runs the company’s renewables unit, said he’s pushing the hybrid concept to other turbine buyers.

Offering solar panels may offset an anticipated decline in turbine sales, he said. U.S. developers have curtailed orders for 2013 on concern that a federal tax credit for wind energy will expire at the end of this year.

“It wasn’t until of late that costs came down enough for solar to make sense,” Abate said Jan. 20 in an interview. “Plugging them in to wind farm locations, you already know the community, how to get the permits and secure interconnections to the grid.”

Because winds are strongest at night and solar panels produce power only during the day, installing both at one project location will lower costs for both and make forecasting output more predictable, he said.

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