Chinese manufacturer Shanghai Electric has launched the country’s first 8MW offshore wind turbine, based on Siemens Gamesa technology, and unveiled the machine's prototype nacelle at its factory in Shantou city, Guangdong province.

The new machine will be the largest wind turbine produced in Asia, beating the previous record set by Ming Yang eight months ago with the delivery of a 7.25MW machine in Guangdong. Prior to that, Japan’s MHI developed a 7MW SeaAngel floating turbine in 2015, which never made it to serial production, and Shanghai Electric last year established its own 7MW production line in Fujian province.

The prototype turbine — which will feature 81.4-metre blades producing a rotor diameter of 167 metres, and a swept area of 21,900 square metres — will be installed onshore at the Shantou Haojiang industrial park, where it will be tested.

The 8MW turbine is the outcome of an agreement inked last March with Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE), which gives the Shanghai-based company a licence to produce and sell SGRE’s 8.0-167DD offshore machines in the Chinese market.

German developer WPD will use SGRE's version of the turbine at its 640MW Yunlin project in Taiwan, and the model has also been selected as the preferred turbine for the 455MW Northern Akita project in Japan, developed by Obayashi Corp.

Shanghai Electric is now in a prime position to capitalise on the growing Chinese offshore market, where up to 40GW may be grid-connected by the end of 2021, when the best feed-in tariff rates are due to end.

Last year, Fujian province, one of the three critical offshore wind markets in China, unveiled a policy requiring future projects to use turbines of 8MW or bigger

Shanghai Electric has not yet revealed any orders of its 8MW machine, but the firm has secured preliminary approvals from the local Shantou government to develop 9.5GW of offshore wind projects in Guangdong province.

At the product launch last week, Shanghai Electric also signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s telecommunications giant, Huawei Technologies, and China Mobile Communication Corp to explore applying China’s 5G technology at offshore wind farms.

A long-term bearing supply contract between Shanghai Electric and Germany’s Rothe Erde was also inked at the ceremony.

Goldwind, the country’s leading turbine maker, is expecting to launch its first 8MW machine this year, while three other local manufacturers — Dongfang Electric, XEMC, and Taiyuan Heavy Industries — have also announced 8MW prototype designs, Recharge understands.