39. Tilting at Windmills

The windmill dates back to at least the seventh century BC, but not even Don Quixote could’ve imagined what Thomas Wagner and his team completed last April: a wind turbine field five miles off the coast of Ireland. The seven seagull-white 3.6-megawatt turbines, the largest ever used offshore, are also the first designed specifically for this demanding environment. “They should be able to withstand a category-three hurricane,” Wagner says. GE expects its wind-power revenue to double this year to $2 billion and to reach $11.5 billion by 2008. For now, the field is a demo. When it eventually quadruples to become a 100-megawatt power plant, it will generate enough electricity to support at least 64,000 homes. Convinced that offshore fields will be preferable, not to mention easier to place, Wagner is already working on the next turbine: a bigger, more efficient model to inherit the wind.


Thomas Wagner, 43

General manager of wind technology
GE Energy
Greenville, South Carolina

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