China's first offshore programme "at an end"

CHINA: The China Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREA) has conceded that China's first offshore programme is virtually at an end.

CREA director Li Jufeng... China needs to rethink offshore approach

Speaking at the country's Offshore Wind China 2012 conference CREA director Li Junfeng said China needs to rethink its approach to offshore after the failure of the first concession projects.

The four projects, in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, making up the tender were handed out at the end of 2010.

Li added it is far too early to talk about the second (1.5GW-2GW) offshore programme which was expected to be launched in the first half of this year.

Li said: "Officially, the first offshore concession projects still exist. But in reality, they have all ended. The locales for the projects have changed. The water depth of the sea areas have changed. The types of offshore wind turbines will surely change.

"Three years have passed since the public tender result was announced. During the period, the turbine technologies have advanced markedly. If we remain sticking to the result of three years ago, we will not keep abreast of the times."

As previously revealed in Windpower Monthly, China's offshore development had been severely hampered by conflicts between National Energy Bureau and State Oceanic Administration on the use of sea areas for offshore wind power projects.

The four concession projects have had either to be reduced or move farther away from the coastline, compared with the original plans when they won the public tender.

The tender winners are also reluctant to go on with the projects, as the tender winning feed-in tariffs, ranging from CNY 0.62-0.73 per kWh, mean they are likely to lose money when the wind farms go into operation.

Li said: "When it proceeds with the second concession projects, China must consider three issues – scientific nature, seriousness and manoeuvrability of the projects. It will not do if we do not follow scientific laws.

"We will evaluate the first concession projects and put an end to it before considering the second concession projects. Otherwise, there is not much practical significance to talk about the second concession projects."

Under this situation, industry insiders doubt whether China could fulfil the target of installing 5GW offshore turbines by 2015 and 30GW by 2020.

To date, China has only two offshore projects in operation. They are the 102MW Shanghai East Sea Bridge offshore wind project and 131MW Rudong inter-tidal wind project.