Manufacturing News

Tech advantages continue to propel green targets

China has made remarkable strides in offshore wind technology in recent years, revolutionizing the renewable energy landscape while asserting itself as a global leader in clean energy innovation.

The world's first 16-megawatt ultra-large-capacity offshore wind turbine, operated by China Three Gorges Corp, generated 384.1 megawatt-hours in a single 24-hour period, setting a new world record for an individual wind turbine for the time frame.

The record was achieved on Sept 1 when an offshore wind farm in Fujian province experienced wind speeds of up to 23.56 meters per second due to typhoon, China Three Gorges said.

While traditional wind turbines automatically lock their blades to avoid overload when wind speeds exceed 25 meters per second, the intelligent unit of the turbine can adjust its blades in real time, continuing to generate electricity, even in wind speeds greater than 25 mps, maximizing its potential to generate electricity in all-weather conditions, it said.

The company has also been collaborating with Goldwind Technology's wind turbine research and development team to ensure the safety of wind turbines, closely monitoring critical components like the main control program, pitch systems and generators to gradually lift power output while ensuring operational safety.

An analyst said recent advancements in China have made the country a leader in the offshore wind industry worldwide, setting new standards for efficiency and sustainability.

Chinese wind turbine manufacturers have unleashed a wave of innovation in offshore wind turbines in recent years, with the latest generation of turbines designed with larger rotor diameters, enabling them to capture more wind energy and generate higher yields, said Lin Boqiang, head of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University.

"These translate into increased energy production and cost-effectiveness, which not only benefit China's domestic energy needs, but also offer a path for the world to transition to more sustainable and eco-friendly power sources," Lin said.

"China's advances in offshore wind technology underscore its dedication to a greener future and its pivotal role in shaping the renewable energy landscape for generations to come."

Lin said China has also invested in developing grid integration solutions for offshore wind farms, including smart grid technologies and improved energy storage systems, which make it possible to efficiently harness and distribute electricity generated from offshore wind projects, thus reducing energy waste.

Chinese companies have not only applied these technological advancements domestically, but have also become key players in the global offshore wind market, with their expertise, equipment, and technology exported to markets worldwide, facilitating the adoption of cleaner energy sources on a global scale, he added.

China Three Gorges said its latest record-breaking offshore turbine, which began supplying electricity to the grid on July 19, boasts several world firsts, including being the wind turbine with the largest single-unit capacity, largest rotor diameter and lightest weight for its output levels.

It has a 16 MW capacity with each of its blades being 123 meters. Even though the blades are made of lightweight, high-strength carbon fiber materials, each blade still weighs more than 54 tons, it said.

When operating at full speed, the edge of the blade can reach up to 70 percent of the speed of sound, more than double the speed of a high-speed train.

Lei Mingshan, chairman of the company, said 95 percent of the turbines are made in China, from the manufacturing of core components like main bearings to the breakthrough use of carbon fiber materials in the blades.

Key components such as generators and gearboxes are almost 100 percent domestically produced, Lei said.

The Chinese Wind Energy Association under the China Renewable Energy Society said China added 11,098 wind turbines last year, with a total capacity of 49.83 million kilowatts, of which 10 percent were located offshore.

By the end of 2022, total onshore wind capacity stood at 360 million kW, while offshore capacity was 3.05 million kW.

This means China accounts for more than a third of the world's installed wind capacity, it said.

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