By Lin Xiaoyi and Yang Ruoyu in Fuzhou (Global Times) 08:25, June 29, 2023
The world's largest 16-megawatt offshore wind turbine was successfully installed off the coast of East China's Fujian Province on Wednesday and is about to be put into commercial operation soon, marking an important breakthrough in China's offshore wind power production in high-end equipment manufacturing capacity and far-reaching offshore wind power construction capacity.
Located approximately 35 kilometers from the shoreline of Pingtan county, the 16-megawatt offshore wind turbine is currently the largest single capacity wind turbine that has been installed in the world. The center height of the wind turbine hub is 152 meters, the weight of the engine room and the generator combination is 385 tons, the blade is 123 meters long, and the impeller sweeping area is about 50,000 square meters, the equivalent of about seven standard soccer fields.
The Global Times learned that the main components of this 16-megawatt offshore wind turbine are completely independent development by China. The research and development teams of the China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG) and Xinjiang Goldwind Sci and Tech Co. have overcome a series of key technical challenges, including ultra-long flexible blades, large-scale main shaft bearings, and miniaturization of ultra-large capacity generators.
"For example, the production and installation of the main shaft bearing is a technical challenge in the development of large-capacity wind turbines. In the past, domestic offshore wind turbines mainly relied on imports for bearings. However, Chinese researchers have been continuously working on technological breakthroughs and have ultimately achieved a major milestone in the localization of this crucial component," Liu Jianping, deputy general manager of GTG Fujian, told the Global Times.
Under standard working conditions, each revolution of the turbine can generate around 34 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, or 66 million kWh of clean electricity on average annually, which can meet the normal electricity consumption of 36,000 families for one year, saving about 22,000 tons of standard coal and cutting about 54,000 tons of carbon dioxide emission.
The application of high-power offshore wind turbines will greatly reduce the area of sea under use, Liu pointed out, noting that the new wind turbines have reduced the weight of the generator to about 20 tons while ensuring the power generation capacity. They have also achieved a technological breakthrough in large-capacity motor miniaturization.
The southeastern coastal areas of China have abundant wind resources, but complex sea conditions make it the most unstable coastal climate in the country. This 16-megawatt turbine, reassuringly, is equipped with hundreds of sensors on the entire machine and a lidar on the nacelle, which can digitally track the operational status of the unit and intelligently adjust its operating mode in response to severe weather conditions such as typhoon, ensuring the safe operation and efficient power generation by the wind turbine, said Liu.
The world's first 2,000-ton fourth-generation offshore wind power installation platform, Baihetan, was also dispatched to help the fan hoisting and installation smoothly.
In the next step, the wind turbine will be comprehensively tested in the design performance of the unit in its commercial operation process, and provide technical support for large-scale applications of large offshore wind power units with similar or even larger installed capacities in the near future.
CTG's 16-megawatt offshore wind turbine was designed to move from technological innovation to large-scale commercial application, Liu said, revealing that CTG Fujian plans to install another seven 16-megawatt offshore wind turbines in the Zhangpu county along the coast of Fujian Province by 2024, and gradually promote mass production.
At present, China's offshore wind power development industry has established and formed a complete industry chain, including survey and design, machine manufacturing, foundation construction, fan hoisting and other key construction links, Lin Yifeng, chief engineer of CTG's Shanghai survey and design institute, told the Global Times.
As of March 2023, the cumulative grid-connected installed capacity of offshore wind power in China stands at approximately 30.89 million kilowatts. The installed capacity has ranked the first in the world for two consecutive years, surpassing the combined grid-connected installed capacity of offshore wind power of the countries in the second to fifth places.