General Electric has filed a complaint at a federal court in Los Angeles, alleging the unauthorised use of its wind turbine control technology by its rival in the market, Vestas.

The patent covers a technology known as zero voltage ride through, which enables wind turbines to remain connected to the grid without damage during voltage fluctuations such as those caused by lightning strikes or short circuits. Typically, the turbines were designed to disconnect from the grid.
General Electric
GE had to previously take legal action against Mitsubishi over the use of the same patent, and was successful in 2010 in winning the case.

Vestas, the world’s number one wind turbine maker denies the allegation, stating, “Based on our initial assessment we strongly believe that the complaint is without merit and intend to challenge it.”

Vestas and GE are number 1 and 2 in the sector respectively and their dispute comes at a time when the US wind industry is on the verge of significant growth. At the end of June, more than 25.8 GW of wind farms were under construction or in advanced development in the U.S., up 41 percent from a year earlier, according to a report from the American Wind Energy Association.

GE contends Vestas is using the technology for marketing and at wind farms in 11 U.S. states. Vestas knew of the patent because one of its engineers was subpoenaed to provide documents and testimony in the Mitsubishi Heavy case, according to the complaint GE filed.

The technology, contained in turbine nacelles, is key to companies efforts in generating wind power more efficiently, while selling greater volumes of electricity to the grid.