Chinese Wind OEMs Race to Deliver the Largest Offshore Turbine: Progress Update

2020 Mar OEM R&D

[Originally written on 2019/12, this article was updated on 2020/03/23. We will continue updating the post to reflect new development in China. ]

A race to develop the largest offshore turbine—and as fast as possible— has set off among the wind turbine makers in China since last year. The R&D competition shows no sign of waning amid the current global standstill caused by Covid-19 outbreak.

Largest Offshore Wind Turbine in China: DEC 10MW

DEC & CTG’s cooperation result in 10MW turbine developmnet

Chinese turbine manufacturing Dongfang Electric (DEC) is leading the race, by the introduction of its 10MW prototype in 2019. 

For now, the DEC turbine is the largest turbine being produced in China and in the Asia Pacific. Mass production of the turbine may need to wait for the result of a test run in the sea, for which DEC and its partner China Three Gorges (CTG) are working hard. [READ MORE on CTG and its role in the Chinese power and renewable market ]

The duo plans to install the 10MW prototype in CTG’s Xinhua Bay Phase 2 offshore wind farm, off China’s Fujian province. The turbine foundation work has been completed by this Jan. That means an installation of the turbine could be completed by this year and commercialization is possible in 2021.  

The product launch is a fighting chance for DEC to compete with the current dominant players in the offshore market: Shanghai Electric, Goldwind, and Ming Yang. One thing to note is that DEC currently has a limited existence in the market. [READ MORE on Chinese OEMs’ Market Share in 2019 and 2010-2019]

However, the business case of the product remains uncertain. The launch is amid a tricky time when developers are under immense pressure to build about 50GW offshore wind projects before the deadline of the end of 2021. A delay of grid connection will cost them the national subsidy support for 20 years, which mean almost half of their feed-in tariff. Meanwhile, the supply chain is not enough to support all the projects to connect. As a result, the priority of project developers right now is to secure the equipment supply. [Read more about China’s offshore wind market’s installation rush and investment risk]

This dynamics leaves little room for DEC’s testing phase 10MW product. Thus, despite CTG initially selected DEC to provide turbines to its Changle Outer Sea offshore wind farm, the technology partner of DEC resorted to change supplier, to Shanghai Electric, to ensure turbine delivery time. 

It is unclear whether the DEC 10MW could catch up with the current installation rush. 

While DEC’s 10MW has yet to come to reality in the project, the largest turbine installed in China’s sea remains the 6.7MW machine of Goldwind.

Next to that, Shanghai Electric has installed its 8MW prototype, a machine of licensed SGRE technology. The firm claimed it as the largest wind turbine installed in Asia. But, notably, it was put up onshore as a testing unit.  

That means the market here would quickly jump from a 6.7MW turbine to a 10MW turbine in the sea. It is an exciting race. But the business viability and technology reliability of the jump remains to be seen. 

Shanghai Electric Wind Corp’s 8MW onshore installation

China’s Offshore Wind Turbine R&Ds: 2020 Updates

DEC’s rivals are speeding up R&Ds as well. And the coronavirus outbreak so far did not put a brake on their race. 

Two recent updates in early 2020 show MYSE is moving to deliver its 8-10MW turbine soon. Based on our understanding, the prototype would be a direct-drive and double-fed hybrid PMSG machine. 

Last week, CRRC Yongji, a Shanxi electronic manufacturer, announced to start assembling a 9MW permanent-magnet synchronous generator (PMSG), without naming the turbine OEM client of the generator, as we mentioned in Energy Iceberg Syndicate.

Only about 14 months ago, the firm revealed a 7.5MW PMSG in WindHamburg, which turned out to be for Ming Yang’s 7MW platform.  

Ming Yang, backed by the local Guangdong government, is on an accelerated track of the offshore wind market. 

Last November—only ten months after the firm installed a 7.25MW turbine—Ming Yang released a new “8-10MW platform prototype”at its manufacturing hub in Yangjiang. The firm then claimed to install the turbine “a week after” the product launch. But so far the installation does not seem to take place yet. 

Meanwhile, Ming Yang also shows the intention to kick off a 14MW turbine research by building a facility in Guangdong named as “14MW demo project.” But undoubtedly it will be a long way to go. 

CRRC 9MW PMSG Assembly

Chronicle Review of Chinese OEMs’ Turbine Development

The race among OEMs to deliver the largest offshore wind turbine in the fastest manner has taken place since 2019. Particularly, the competition speeded up since 2019H2. 

Below Energy Iceberg will list OEMs’ super-size turbine development progress: 

  • 2020/03: CRRC started to assemble a 9MW PMSG
  • 2020/02: Shanghai Electric won the first 8MW turbine order from CTG in Changle project
  • 2020/02: government filing revealed Ming Yang (MYSE) building a 14MW turbine R&D facility 
  • 2020/01: Shanghai Electric installed (onshore) an 8MW turbine, the largest turbine installed in Asia 
  • 2020/01: CTG laid the foundation for DEC’s 10MW offshore turbine in Xinghua Bay
  • 2019/11: MYSE unveiled 8-10MW platform
  • 2019/10: CSIC Haizhuang released its 10MW certified turbine design
  • 2019/10: Dongfang Electric delivered the bombshell 10MW prototype
  • 2019/10: Goldwind finally produced its long-waited 8MW prototype at Fujian
  • 2019/09: Shanghai Electric Wind (SEW) launched the nation’s first 8MW prototype
  • 2019/07: GE began to build a turbine assembly plant in Guangdong, which is set to produce the 12MW Haliadex “from 2021H2.” 
  • 2019/02: MYSE installed (onshore) 7.25MW prototype, the largest turbine installed in China
  • 2018/02: Goldwind installed a 6.7MW turbine in Xinghua Bay Phase 1 of CTG, marking the largest offshore turbine installed in the Chinese sea 

Summary of Chinese OEMs Offshore Turbine R&Ds

updated at 23 Mar. 2020

Cautious Views on the Speedy Progress in China

The speedy progress is existing but also lead to questions, namely 

  1. Technology concern: The speedy development is, in part, triggered by the marketing needs and gives not much room for product iteration, technology validation, and testing. In 2018, the turbine makers were then debating whether larger (than 4MW) turbine was necessary. And the demonstrative Xinghua Bay offshore wind project of China Three Gorges was meant to test and compare the performance of the 5MW-6.7MW machines–then considered “mega turbines.” Just a year later, five new models have arrived. The turbine size has leapt from 7+MW to now 10+MW.
  2. Commercial concern: the business perspective of the super-sized turbines in the near term in China is unclear: the lack of interest of some OEMs in participating in the race is an indication. Envision, commercially successful in onshore, announced no plan in upgrading their product capacity.

Would the double-digit race go beyond a “competition for good publicity” and become a true innovation to set the Chinese turbine makers ahead in the global market? We shall see. 

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