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Wind Wire: Sights raised

China is raising its targets for renewable energy. Zhang Xiaoqiang of the National Development and Reform Commission says the country will source about 20% of its energy needs from renewables by 2020, exceeding its current target of 15%.

Zhang says the goal may require 100 GW of wind power, more than three times the official target of 30 GW and a figure used by Chinese energy officials in recent comments. The Chinese wind sector believes installed capacity could reach 150 GW by then. China has earmarked some CNY 200 billion ($30 billion) of its CNY 4 trillion ($590 billion) stimulus package for projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promised major build-out of its electricity grid to accommodate more renewables. A three-phase grid improvement program is slated for completion by 2015, with a further upgrade by 2020. By that year, increased grid efficiency will reduce the need for thermal energy reserve for wind power to the extent that 35% of all Chinese power generation can be met by renewables, according to the state grid operator.

UK-based engineering consultancy Romax Technology is expanding its presence in Asia through a collaboration on drivetrain technology for a 5 MW wind turbine with DHI-DCW Group, one of China's largest manufacturers of industrial machinery. In the arrangement, Romax is providing design consultancy for the Chinese firm, licensing certain technology and jointly developing others, says Romax's Andy Poon. "There'll be a degree of licensing but there'll be a larger degree of technology transfer and customised development - particularly for this turbine, because it is 5 MW design and we will need to do things over and above a normal licensing deal," he says. The companies hope to begin production of the gearbox by mid-2010, probably at DHI-DCW's main gearbox factory in the coastal city of Dalian, in Liaoning Province, he says. DHI-DCW will have worldwide sales rights. Romax declines to divulge financial details or elaborate on specifics of the gearbox. DHI-DCW is co-operating with top Chinese wind turbine supplier Sinovel on the 5 MW turbine.

Harbin AVIC Aircraft Industry Co has extended its foray into the wind power sector with trial operation of a 1.5 MW model with a simplified gearbox of fewer stages than conventionally used in wind turbines. AVIC Aircraft's Gao Yachun, chief designer of the turbine, says the company's technology is independently developed and reaches its rated capacity at 11 m/s. The machine is feeding power to the local grid for the city of Harbin in northwest China's Heilongjiang Province. Jiang Bin of the Harbin Municipal Science and Technology Bureau says development of the machine will encourage further experimental wind turbines and power conversion technology, while boosting demand for locally manufactured turbine blades and gearboxes. The Harbin city authority has invested CNY 15 million ($2.2 million) in developing 1.5 MW direct drive and hybrid wind turbines, converters, bearings, blades and towers.

LM Glasfiber, a Danish manufacturer of wind turbine rotor blades, is building a CNY 300 million ($43.9 million) factory in the northern Chinese port town of Qinhuangdao. It plans to complete the first phase of construction by the end of this year. Targeted annual output is 100 sets of 40 metre blades. With conclusion of the third and final phase in 2010, its yearly production will be 700 sets in a bid to become the largest blade supplier in China. That would outpace LM's two existing factories in China, one in the northern coastal city of Tianjin and another in Urumchi, the capital of the Xinjiang. Both factories also make 40 metre blades and larger. Most output at the new factory is intended for Chinese turbine manufacturers.

SGS Group, a Swiss industrial certification firm, has signed a co-operation agreement with the Tianjin Economic and Technological Development Zone in north-east China to invest CNY 28 million ($4.1 million) in establishing Asia's first wind turbine blade research and development and testing laboratory. The facility will conduct testing of blade performance and assist manufacturers in developing new models. SGS set up a Tianjin branch in 1993 and moved into the development zone in 2004. It has seven labs in China.

Construction has begun on the 50 MW Datang Chaganhada Wind Farm in Balin Left Banner, near Chifeng in Inner Mongolia. The local government considers the CNY 500 million ($73.4 million) wind farm a key project because it is located along the regional highway that runs through Chaganhada township and is 25 kilometres away from the county seat. The plant is to use 33, 1.5 MW turbines of unidentified origin. Completion is expected within a year. Forecast annual power generation is 100 GWh and will bring in predicted revenue of CNY 60 million ($8.8 million).

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