China is betting on turbines

China is the biggest and fastest growing wind-turbine producer in the world, partly thanks to wind-turbine technology and rotor-blade design from Holland. China is the biggest and fastest growing wind-turbine producer in the world, partly thanks to wind-turbine technology and rotor-blade design from Holland. 

The numbers are impressive. In 2011, China installed 18 Giga-watt; almost half of the global installed wind capacity (41GW). While most onshore areas are getting saturated, China is now focussing on offshore projects. First test farms are installed and China will construct 5 GW of offshore wind projects by 2015. By 2020, China will construct 30 GW offshore projects, making it the largest country for offshore wind-power development. “Most of these wind-turbines will be produced locally, based on Dutch designs”, says Martijn van Breugel, owner of EDDP, a Dutch ‘greentech’ consultancy firm in Beijing. 

Liaison

EDDP investigates market opportunities and acts as liaison between European and Chinese Companies. Martijn and his employees have contributed to several wind-energy technology deals for one of his clients, Pontis-Engineering. Pontis designs rotor-blades and assists customers with the production of these huge blades. Van Breugel also represents Holland Home of Wind Energy (HHWE), an exporters’ association representing the interests of the Dutch wind-energy sector abroad. 

“The Netherlands have a long history in wind-energy. Dutch companies and knowledge institutes are famous in the world for their technology and innovative power, both onshore and offshore”, says Martijn. “The world of wind-energy is very high-tech and the Chinese expertise for designing and managing offshore projects has not matured enough yet.

Insufficient rotor-blade and turbine designs have lead to low performance of some Chinese wind-farms. Some farms are idle and not connected to the grid.”

“The lifetime of a wind-farm should be 15-20 years without unscheduled maintenance. Quite some Chinese turbines stopped producing wind-energy long before that mark, due to technical problems.” The added value of Pontis and ‘China Wind’ – a project focussing on China – under the veil of HHWE is to provide China with solutions for lasting, endurable production of wind-energy.

Technology lead

Exporting products and know-how to China may seem risky. “True. Chinese companies can build small turbines better and better, but still lack some expertise for the bigger picture. We are confident that we will be able to consolidate our technology lead in the future. “

‘China Wind’ works on the visibility of their members in China by organizing trade-missions, expos and seminars in China with the support of Dutch diplomacy. “We are now having a discussion with the Chinese government in order to get an overview of the Chinese needs for know-how in order to match them with the solutions of our members.“

The Chinese wind business has huge potential but there are certain difficulties too. As a consultant, Martijn is aware of the need to invest time and energy in the contacts with the Chinese markets. “As with all business ventures in China, companies should not to see China as a ‘side project’. Anybody who is serious about setting up local presence should prepare well and preferably work with an experienced advisor who knows China well.”

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