Travels in China – Part 4

Published 4 August 2015

In the final instalment of Peter’s travel blog on his trip to China, the group arrive in Beijing for the main Prosperity event. Hosted by the National Renewable Energy Research Institute, the main podium was shared by Lishan Shi, Deputy Director, National Energy Administration and Julian MacCormac, Head of Energy, UKTI.

The audience for the event was a great mix of developers, OEMs, supply chain representatives and developers, all of whom actively participated. Simultaneous translation was used, which worked well for the UK contingent but I’m not sure that the Chinese translation went as smoothly given there were three heavily accented Scottish speakers!

The Chinese Government is promoting a diverse and low carbon electricity industry, strongly supporting renewable industries such as hydro, solar and wind.  As a consequence, they are determined that nearshore offshore wind will be developed.  It appears that this is part of a strategy to process power at ‘points of need’.  The Chinese coastline is generally highly developed with a combination of urban and industrial regions, hence offshore wind is well aligned to the ‘points of need’ strategy.

Chinese turbine manufacturers continue to develop their turbine offerings, with larger variants in the range of 4 to 6MW currently being developed specifically for the local market.  The perception is that large European turbines would not be suitable for deployment in China due to the low wind resource, and so China will most likely use smaller turbines with perhaps longer, low wind blade configurations.

With new turbines in development, there was considerable interest in ORE Catapult’s testing facilities, especially as the development of similar facilities in China is currently under consideration.  There should be good opportunities for the Catapult to offer testing services in the short term and, in the medium to longer term, facilitate knowledge transfer to aid the development of Chinese test facilities.

The Chinese showed considerable interest in the joint industry project concept and a willingness to engage in projects, despite logistical challenges. There is also a strong interest in a potential test and demonstration site in the UK, as the turbine manufacturers consider the feasibility of becoming established in the European market.

Overall, it was a great event and a very worthwhile first visit to China. The UKTI team did an excellent job in facilitating the meetings and maximising our time in China, especially given such a hectic schedule. It was also great to see Ian Irvine and his SgurrEnergy team having such an influential position in the Chinese market. Good contacts were made and opportunities explored to generate future collaboration and engagement with the Chinese renewables industry.

Can’t wait for my next trip…….