Development and Quality Risks of China's Offshore Wind Power Sector

12/01/16

China boasts an abundance of offshore wind power resources. It is reported that the potential capacity of offshore wind power is about 200 million kW at a water depth of 5-25 meters and a height of 50 meters above sea level, and is about 500 million kW at a water depth of 5-50 meters and a height of 70 meters above sea level. In addition, there are plentiful wind power resources at intertidal zones, subtidal zones, tidal flats and deep sea. Despite the rich resources, the construction of offshore wind power projects is progressing at a slow pace. According to the data, among the 44 projects listed in the National Offshore Wind Power Development and Construction Scheme (2014-2016), only 2 projects have been completed and put into operation, with remaining projects being under construction, pending or in preparation. The slow development is largely linked to the huge risks involved with China’s offshore wind power projects.




Currently, the main risks in China’s offshore wind power projects are as follows: 
1. Wind farm in intertidal zone is alternately covered and exposed by tides
Most of offshore wind farms in China are located at zones with a medium or small water depth, or even at tidal flats. This brings about such problems as shallow-water waves, breaking waves and large velocity of tidal current. Additionally, in the north region, there is a concern about ice load in winter. For the wind farm located in intertidal zone, the coastal area is alternately covered and exposed by tides.

2. Imperfect laws/regulations and standard systems
Currently, there are not standard document systems tailored to the characteristics of China’s offshore wind power sector. The international standard systems were established based on the European wind power conditions, which are different from those of China: Most of sea beds in China feature a soft soil foundation; wind farms generally have a small area, with large wake effects produced by densely arranged wind turbines; fatigue and vibration of wind turbine generator system also pose problems to the operation of equipment; Wind farms worldwide are usually designed with a service life of 20 years, but in China, with investment costs being taken into consideration, the expected service life needs to be extended to 25 years. On the other hand, there are not laws and regulations specific to offshore wind power sector in China. Current regulations in ocean engineering are focused on the offshore oil and gas development and are not fully applicable to offshore wind power sector. The lack of sound laws and regulations specially enacted for offshore wind power constitutes another risk. 

3. Insufficient supporting ability of industrial chain
There is a lack of awareness about offshore projects among equipment suppliers in China, which is manifested in many ways, such as insufficient supporting ability of industrial chain, deficiency of experiences and specialized tools in construction and incompetent safety and quality management in ocean engineering.

4. Higher requirements for the resistance to typhoon
Wind turbine generator system and its foundation pose higher requirements on the resistance to typhoon and involve a more complicated operation mechanism.

On the top of the above risks, the electricity rate is also an obstacle to the development of China’s offshore wind power sector. Temporary electricity rate is still being implemented in China, making it difficult for enterprises to harvest reasonable economic benefits. Temporary power purchase price will be applied in offshore wind power sector until the end of 2016, with the rate being 0.85 yuan/kWh for offshore projects and 0.75 yuan/kWh for intertidal zone projects.

In spite of many risks, offshore wind power projects have certain advantages over onshore wind power ones, including richer wind resources and lower costs in power transmission. The southeast coastal areas with the most off-shore wind power resources are adjacent to the developed areas with a huge demand for electricity, which means a much shorter distance and lower costs for power transmission.

Bureau Veritas pushes forward China's offshore wind power projects with excellent services
Since entering China's wind power market in 2003, Bureau Veritas has been mostly working on onshore wind power services. With the rapid development of China’s offshore wind power sector, Bureau Veritas expands its business to offshore wind power to adapt to the changes in market. Bureau Veritas provides a wide range of services in the offshore wind power sector, including supervision on the construction of steel pipe piles, inspection of towers, quality control for on-site construction of pile foundation and bearing platform foundation, supervision on the installation and hoisting of wind turbines, design audit for offshore wind turbines and their foundation and booster stations, risk assessment for offshore wind turbines, certification for offshore projects and anti-corrosion inspection. 

Bureau Veritas' track record in offshore wind power sector (as of June 30, 2015)
2015 
Supervision on the construction of pipe piles and jackets for Sinohydro Corporation's Rudong 100MW offshore wind farm (intertidal zone) demonstration project 
Supervision on the construction of submarine cable for CGN's Rudong 150MW offshore wind farm demonstration project 
Supervision on the construction of main transformer for China Longyuan Power Group's Fujian Nanri Island offshore wind power project 
Supervision on the construction of towers for Putian Pinghae 50MW offshore wind power project in Fujian 
2014 
Implementation of Zhuhai Guishan offshore wind farm project; after receiving the recognition of owner, Bureau Veritas added supervision on the construction of wind power blades to its service scope by signing a supplementary agreement. 
Supervision on the construction of main transformer, single pipe piles and submarine cable for the expansion project of China Longyuan Power Group’s Rudong pilot offshore wind farm 
Supervision on the construction of submarine cable for China Longyuan Power Group’s Nanri Island offshore wind power project in Fujian 
Framework agreement entered into with Green Energy on oil testing
Oil testing service for the Phase I project of the Donghai Bridge 
2013 
The technical consultancy contract awarded by China Southern Offshore Wind Power United Development Co., LTD. for the Zhuhai Guishan offshore wind farm project, with the scope of services including procurement support, supervision on the construction of equipment (main frame, tower jacket, steel pipe pile, submarine cable), on-site inspection and acceptance and cost control. 
The contract awarded by Mingyang Wind Power for the supervision on the construction of 6MW wind turbine prototype’s foundation and fixture, foundation construction and quality control for the wind turbine installation.
2012
Inspection of steel pipe piles and supervision on the construction of towers for the 50MW project of China Longyuan Power Group's Rudong 150MW demonstration offshore wine power farm
Inspection of steel pipe piles and supervision on the construction of towers for the 50MW capacity expansion project of China Longyuan Power Group's Rudong 150MW demonstration offshore wine power farm
2011
Provision of supervision and training services for the civil construction of offshore wind farm foundation for Xinjiang Goldwind Sci & Tech Co.,Ltd.
Supervision on the construction of jackets and pipe piles for China Longyuan Power Group's Rudong 150MW demonstration offshore wine power farm
2010
Supervision on the construction of towers for Phase I project of China Guodian Corporation's Shandong Weifang Binhai offshore wind farm on behalf of United Power
2008
Supervision on the construction of towers for offshore project of the Donghai Bridge on behalf of Sinovel Wind Group Co., Ltd.

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