Longyuan: Leading offshore charge in China

CHINA: Longyuan, China's leading wind power developer has pioneered projects in low-wind speed regions, at extreme altitudes and is now at the forefront of the country's efforts to grow its offshore sector.

Offshore Installer… One of Longyuan's two self-hoisting crane vessels

This article is part of Windpower Monthly's Wind Developer Report

Since it was founded in 1993, the China Longyuan Power Group has been committed to the development of green energy generation. By the end of 2013 it owned or controlled a total of 14.1GW of generating capacity, with wind accounting for the vast majority of its business — 11.9GW of installed capacity by the end of last year. Longyuan is now indisputably China's leading wind-power developer. The company's remaining 2.2GW of capacity is made up of solar, tidal, biomass and geothermal sectors.

Longyuan runs six large wind zones in the northern and south-eastern coastal part of China. The 11 provincial areas that accommodate these zones all boast rich wind resources. At the end of 2013 wind installations here accounted for more than 80% of the company's total wind capacity. But in recent years, Longyuan has quickened its pace of developing projects in both central and coastal areas, where curtailment is less severe. In 2011 it commissioned the country's first large-scale low-wind speed farm in east China's Anhui province.

New regions

Since then, its wind business has extended to Shanxi, Shaanxi, Jiangxi and Guizhou provinces in central China and to Shandong and Jiangsu provinces in eastern coastal areas. Last year, the firm had 2.76GW of wind projects approved by the National Energy Administration (NEA), more than 70% of which were located in these areas. In a subsequent NEA-approved plan of wind sites, released in February, Longyuan had 28 projects totalling 1.5GW, 90% of which were in these areas.

As well as pioneering low-wind speed development in China, Longyuan has been at the forefront in other areas. In October 2013 it commissioned five Goldwind 1.5MW turbines 4,700 metres above sea level in Naqu, Tibet, still comfortably the highest wind farm in the world. The plan is to install 33 such turbines in two phases in Tibet, where wind power was unknown before.

Offshore ambitions

Longyuan has also been leading China's offshore wind development. It operates 257MW of the country's 482MW of installed offshore capacity, and its inter-tidal site at Rudong in Jiangsu province has served as the testing ground for the country's offshore products. Almost all the major domestic manufacturers have installed their multi-megawatt prototypes there.

Over the past few years, Longyuan has gained much experience in offshore wind. It currently owns two 800-tonne self-hoisting crane vessels, designed for installing offshore turbines in water depths of up to 30 metres. Together they are capable of installing 300-350MW of offshore turbines a year. Longyuan president Li Enyi said in August that the developer is aiming to boost its operating offshore capacity to 1GW by the end of 2016.

Longyuan is also now looking beyond China for future growth. Its Canadian subsidiary, Longyuan Canada Renewables, is close to commissioning the 91.4MW Dufferin wind project in Ontario, using GE turbines. It has also successfully tendered for 244MW in two projects in South Africa, and preparatory work is under way for projects in the US and eastern Europe. The growing Latin-American market is also being targeted for future development.