Growing murmurs on how the rapidly increasing size of offshore wind turbines is not sustainable do not appear to have been heard by the Chinese.

The Global Times, one of the Chinese government’s English-speaking state mouthpieces, has published an article proclaiming the success of the world’s largest offshore wind turbine installation with a massive 16MW power-generating capacity (this is 2MW greater than today’s current largest).

Offshore wind turbines

The centre of the nacelle is 152 metres above ground level, each blade measures 123 metres in length, the engine room and generator combined weigh 385 tonnes and the area swept by the blades is 50,000 square metres, which equates to seven standard football pitches, the publication says.

Claiming that all of the main components making up the giant turbine were ‘completely independent development by China’, the publication names China Three Gorges (CTG) and Xinjiang Goldwind Sci and Tech as the brains behind the project.

“{The companies} have overcome a series of key technical challenges, including ultra-long flexible blades, large-scale main shaft bearings, and miniaturisation of ultra-large capacity generators,” it says.

“For example, the production and installation of the main shaft bearing is a technical challenge in the development of large-capacity wind turbines,” the paper quoted CTG Fujian deputy general manager Liu Jianping as saying. “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.”

The article says the plan is to first commercialise the wind turbine before installing another seven of the same size by 2024, eventually pushing for mass production.

The development comes as the industry in Europe is beginning to talk about calming down over increasing sizes of turbines because each new iteration must be accompanied by an equivalent upsize in installation equipment, such as cranes and installation vessels, and this cannot be sustained.

The three major turbine manufacturers – Siemens Gamesa, GE and Vestas – have recorded a total loss of $4 billion in the past couple of years.

This publication has reported several times on different suggestions coming through, such as at the recent Oslo NorShipping conference, when several parties talked about reaching consensus, and an interview with IMCA CEO Iain Grainger, who spoke at Seawork to warn that consumers would have to pay the price for turbine companies who were failing to see profits.

Just last week, Siemens Energy CEO Christian Bruch cancelled the firm’s profit forecast for 2023 because of wind turbine company Siemens Gamesa, which it wholly owns, recording massive failures in some of its technology. The announcement wiped a third of the company’s value.