Goldwind Views

Cao Zhigang: Building a Community of Shared Interests and Facilitating Quality Development of the Offshore Wind Power Industry

The 3rd Offshore Wind Summit was held in Fuzhou, China, on June 14, 2018. At the Summit's opening ceremony, Cao Zhigang, board director and executive vice president of Goldwind, gave a speech on “building a community of shared interests and facilitating the quality development of the offshore wind power industry”, focusing on the situation and trending topics in the industry.

Offshore wind power development is entering the "fast lane"

As offshore wind power gains prominence for development of wind power around the globe in recent years, several countries have given high priority to offshore wind power for development of renewable energy. China has also made offshore wind power an important part of its strategic emerging industries.

The Global Wind Report 2017 released by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) shows that China added 1,160 MW of installed offshore wind power capacity in 2017. According to offshore wind power plans announced by Chinese provinces, the total planned capacity of Fujian and Guangdong has already exceeded 80,000 MW; the project development features shift from offshore areas to distant waters, from shallow waters to deep waters, and from small-scale demonstration to large-scale development; China’s offshore wind power industry is scaling up and becoming commercialized. But on the other hand, it is confronted with considerable challenges in marine engineering, product reliability, long-distance electricity transmission, and operation & maintenance.

Standing on the shoulders of the giant of "history" for continuous progress

In Cao Zhigang's view, the experience of the onshore wind power industry proves fairly valuable to the development of offshore wind power. For such development, we should also draw on the experience of the marine engineering industry, and stand on the shoulders of the giant of "history" to address new applications and challenges.

With better technologies and products being developed, and the kilowatt-hour cost being continuously reduced, China’s wind power industry has made a great leap forward developing over 20 years. The following practices vouch for it: continuous increase in turbine capacity from kW-level, MW-level to nearly 10 MW-level; continuous increase in rotor diameter from 43 m, 82 m to 184 m, with the swept area equivalent to 3.7 standard football fields; and continuous increase in tower height from 38.5 m, 80 m to 168 m.

However, industrial growth also taught us bitter lessons. These experiences prompt people engaged in the wind power industry to consider ways to persevere in improving quality and reliability, and balancing one-time input and operation quality assurance & service during the lifecycle of a wind turbine.

To develop offshore wind power, basic capacities shall be enhanced

In May 2018, the National Energy Administration of China issued the Notice on the Administrative Requirements for Wind Power Development in 2018, which stated that the allocation and determination of feed-in tariffs of all newly approved offshore wind power projects would be subject to competition as of 2019, thus creating new challenges and opportunities for China's wind power industry.

No doubt, the policy on competitive allocation will provide impetus to technological advance in the country’s wind power industry, which will jump to a higher stage of development in turbine reliability, marine engineering and offshore operation & maintenance. As the industry matures, it will be oriented toward value, innovative technology, quality and customers once again.

Cao Zhigang believes the offshore wind power industry is still enhancing basic capacities in R&D investment, investment in quality and testing, and harvest is not around the corner.

 It is clear that all round "basic capacities" are the key to success of the offshore wind power industry in the future. Among them, reliability, R&D investment and efforts at quality improvement are three major factors.

To develop offshore wind power, one the one hand, the reliability, grid-friendly features and economy of wind power shall always be prioritized; on the other hand, efforts shall be made to encourage wind power to move into an era that advocates smart & digital approach and value orientation. While we are fostering collaborative innovation of technology and industrial chain, instruments such as digitalization, artificial intelligence and Big Data in the new era shall be used for "value competition" instead of competition for a lower price. This will help achieve lasting competitiveness and promote industrial development in the long run.

Collaborating to improve the competitiveness of offshore wind power

Patience and persistence will be rewarded. Once an inexperienced newcomer to offshore wind power, Goldwind has now operated a GW 6.7 MW offshore wind turbine, one with the largest capacity in Asia Pacific. In the future, Goldwind will continue to embrace "safe operation of offshore wind power" and "optimum kilowatt-hour cost”, increase the capacity in integrated planning & design of offshore wind farms, construction and delivery of projects, as well as premium and reliable service for offshore operation &maintenance. Goldwind will commit itself to providing optimum solutions and creating maximum value for customers.

Cao Zhigang said, "China's offshore wind power industry cannot undergo steady development without concerted efforts by the upstream and downstream partners in the industrial chain or in the absence of strong support from the government. We firmly believe that by coordination, collaboration and continuous innovation, we will create an open atmosphere for the development of offshore wind power, improve overall competitiveness of the industry, and make solid progress in expanding the presence of China’s offshore wind power industry in the world."