UK F1 technology helps Chinese wind industry drive de-carbonisation

Published 19 December 2019

Anakata Wind Power Ltd has successfully installed its innovative wind turbine blade enhancements, which can improve energy output by up to 10%, on a turbine at China’s Gansu Changma wind farm thanks to support from the TUS-ORE Catapult Research Centre (TORC).

This is the first time that blade aerodynamic add-ons, which are quick, safe and easy to install, have been used on a Chinese wind farm. The Anakata blade ‘winglets’ and other Formula 1-inspired rotor add-on devices, some particularly targeted at mitigating blade leading-edge erosion, can be retrofitted to turbine blades to enhance their performance and increase energy production. The add-on components have been installed successfully on turbines in the UK, Europe and the US.

The Oxford-based SME has been supported in accessing the Chinese market by the TUS-ORE Catapult Research Centre (TORC), a collaboration between China’s TUS Wind and the UK’s Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult. TORC has established an innovation centre and incubation hub in Yantai High Tech Industrial Zone in Shandong Province to support the growth of the Chinese and UK offshore wind industries, developing collaborative research programmes, supporting market entry and incubation for UK businesses in China, providing commercial support for Chinese offshore wind developers, and supporting the demonstration of new technologies.

Ben Wood, CEO of Anakata Wind Power Resource (UK) Ltd, said:

“Anakata is now successfully accessing the Chinese wind energy rotor blade retrofitting market for its innovative aerodynamic add-ons as a direct result of all the hard work of ORE Catapult, Innovate UK and the TUS-ORE Catapult Research Centre.  Without their help, support and bridge-building with the ideal Chinese partner companies, this would have been a near impossibility.

“We are delighted to be able to bring such innovative technology to China and support the growth of the Chinese wind market. We’ve established a long-term strategic partnership with TORC and will co-locate our Chinese HQ with the Centre. We’ll continue to promote our technology and products through the Centre for the mutual benefit of both China and the UK.”

There are over 20,000 similar turbines in China that could be retrofitted with the rotor upgrades, representing a huge potential market for Anakata and making a significant contribution to improving China’s renewable energy efficiency and carbon reduction efforts. Many of the parts will continue to be manufactured in the UK, enabling further investment in UK manufacturing and the continuing development of enhanced technology solutions for offshore wind, both in the UK and globally.

Huang Zonghua, TORC’s technical director, said:

“Blades are the key components of wind turbines to absorb wind energy. For example, if the wind speed of the wind farm during the operation period is different from expected, or the blades are corroded, this will incur production losses for the wind farm. The blade ‘winglets’ are an ideal solution to this problem. By installing this new technical product on the blade, the energy output can be increased by 10%.”

Wang Peng Fei, TORC’s General Manager added: “The successful completion of this demonstration project is a significant milestone in establishing long-term international cooperation between China and the UK. Since the China-UK forum on marine science and technology exchange and cooperation in March this year, we have been developing research projects and working with UK companies to access the Chinese market.”

David Findlay, the UK vice general manager of TORC, said:

“Following the success of last year’s trade mission to China, we are organising another event in May and encourage UK companies working in the offshore wind or marine sectors to contact us if they are interested in accessing the rapidly expanding Chinese market. We look forward to Anakata being the first of many companies that TORC can support.”

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