Analysis: China seeks to move beyond 2015 disappointment

CHINA: Thanks to government support a number of China's top manufacturers are working on next-generation offshore turbines, including Goldwind, Sinovel, Envision, Ming Yang and CSIC-Haizhuang, as the country looks to establish itself as a power in the sector.

Envision's 4MW turbine
Envision's 4MW turbine

Most of the offshore prototypes have been installed on the Yongyuan test site in Rudong off Jiangsu province. The Envision 4MW machine recorded the best performance in wind-power generation and the least maintenance cost.

Goldwind had installed 109.5MW of offshore turbines by the end of 2013, accounting for about 25.5% of the total offshore capacity in the country. However, it is still working on its 6MW turbine. Ming Yang is in a similar situation with its Aerodyn-designed 6MW machine.

However, sources at CSIC-Haizhuang said its H151-5MW offshore turbine passed all the tests on low-voltage ride-through capability. The prototype machine was installed on the Rudong site two years ago and is the first offshore turbine of its scale to achieve this in China.

The push for larger turbines is the result of China's most recent five-year plan for 2011-15, which stipulated the need for larger offshore turbines. However, this was based around ambitious plans that are likely to fall short.

China had installed about 390MW of offshore wind capacity by the end of 2013. The government's target for end-2015 was a total of 5GW, which it now accepts is unlikely to be achieved. The general consensus is that 3GW in 2015 and 4GW in 2016 is more realistic. By that time, new policy would have bedded in, laying a solid foundation for rapid development in the 13th five-year plan period (2016-2020).

In early June, the National Energy Administration (NEA) announced the long-awaited offshore tarriffs. The rates for projects commissioned before 2017 (barring concessions), are CNY 0.85/kWh ($0.16/kWh) for offshore and CNY 0.75/kWh for an inter-tidal projects.

The policy has met with a mixed response. Many industry players complained the rates were too low, putting pressure on the producer to cut costs in order make a profit. This was also one of the reasons why the first offshore tender failed.

But the industry has largely agreed that a temporary standard was better than none at all. It would make the development of offshore more predictable and a profit is still possible.

China's official target for offshore installations in 2020 was 30GW. So far, offshore wind is planned for five provinces, namely Hebei, Liaoning, Shandong, Jiangsu and Guangdong, and the Shanghai municipality.

Longyuan Power has started preparatory work on a number of offshore projects in the first half of this year. These include the 200MW expansion project of the Jiangsu Rudong demonstration offshore wind farm, the 49MW trial project for large offshore wind turbines, also in Rudong, and the 400MW Nanri offshore wind farm in Fujian province.

Longyuan general manager Li Enyi said in September that the company will commission 1GW of offshore wind installations by the end of 2016, which involves a total investment of CNY 18 billion.

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