China’s offshore wind turbine manufacturers could become some of the most dominant in the industry without ever having to succeed overseas, according to Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, with the country’s offshore wind market set to add 40 gigawatts (GW) of capacity over the next decade.
Luke Lewandowski, director at renewable energy research firm Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, spoke to Greentech Media (itself, a Wood Mackenzie Business) Monday, outlining his expectation that the potential size of China’s offshore wind market will give domestic manufacturers the opportunity to lead global offshore wind order rankings in years to come. Specifically, with China expected to install around 40 GW in the next 10 years — only 11 GW less than what is expected to be installed across the whole of Europe — Chinese original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, will almost unwittingly be providing enough capacity to beat out their global rivals.
Putting aside the sheer capacity of what China’s OEMs are likely to output over the next decade, however, and there are two significant impediments to global offshore wind domination. The first is, as Lewandowski says, that “Chinese manufacturers will be pretty much restricted to the Chinese market for the foreseeable future.” Specifically, Chinese OEMs are unlikely to be able to develop the mammoth localized manufacturing necessary to compete outside of their domestic market.
More importantly, however, is the simple fact that Chinese OEMs are currently under-competing in terms of technological development, specifically when it comes to turbine capacity size. Chinese manufacturers have yet to achieve the capacity size being launched by their European rivals. For example, China’s Goldwind — which is one of the world’s top five global offshore wind OEMs — has only recently begun touting turbines in the 6 GW range. Sewind Shanghai, another Chinese OEM in the global top five, is currently offering either Siemens Gamesa’s 8 GW turbine (under license) or its own 3.6 MW turbine.
Being unable to compete in terms of turbine size will be the big hindrance to China’s OEMs if they want to look further afield to expand their market share. However, given the potential size of China’s homegrown offshore wind market, many OEMs will simply not feel the need to expand.