China National Offshore Oil Corporation 'to shut renewables division'

CHINA: China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is to close its renewable energy unit as a result of the lacklustre growth in its home market, the Chinese business media has reported.

CNOOC installed China's first offshore turbine in 2007

An anonymous source from within senior management at the company told local media that CNOOC New Energy Investment, which operates wind, solar and biomass projects, will be wound down by China's third largest oil producer as it returns to concentrating on its core activities.

A spokesperson for the company has denied that the subsidiary will be closed. The business is still listed on the company website, with jobs continuing to be advertised as vacant. However, the positions are not related to renewable energy but are in the fossil-fuel sector.

Local media has reported that the empoyees from the renewables business will be offered the chance to transfer to other positions within the comany.

The firm operates the 200MW Yumen Changma 2 wind farm in Gansu province, central China, and is one of four developers behind two mega-projects in Gansu, the 1.8GW Kuantalshan and the 1.6GW Qingshiliang developments.

It is not known whether the projects, which were due to come online in 2015, will still go ahead without CNOOC.

The company also had plans to establish the 102MW Weihai 1 offshore project in Shandong province in the eastern China, which was ultimately intended to be expanded to exceed 1GW.

Back in 2007, CNOOC installed the country's first offshore wind turbine, when it put up a 1.5MW turbine on one of its offshore oil platforms.

The Chinese wind market has taken a dive since its peak in 2011, when 16GW of capacity was added to the grid. But a regional economic slowdown and the curtailment of a large number of projects due to poor planning meant the country only added 12.3GW in 2012.

However, the market showed some signs of recovery in 2013, with new sites acquired for the development of projects with a capacity of 82GW, compared with 32.6GW in 2012.

A number of China's biggest oil companies, including China Petrochemical Corporation and China National Petroleum Corp, set up renewable energy divisions as the rush towards green energy gained pace.