Chinese giants China Three Gorges (CTG) and Goldwind claimed a new global benchmark when a 16MW offshore turbine nacelle emerged from a factory in Fujian province that the partners said shows China is now “leading not following” in the global wind industry.

The 16MW unit is the world’s highest-rated to be built so far, underpinning a turbine with a 252-metre rotor diameter and a 50,000-metre swept area that can deliver enough annual power for 36,000 homes, said a statement from CTG and Goldwind.

The surprise appearance of the 16MW machine soon after the same partners rolled out a 13.6MW turbine puts Goldwind at the head of a pack of Chinese OEMs that are now matching and exceeding the scale of models planned by western peers Vestas, Siemens Gamesa and GE.

CTG chairman Lei Mingshan said: "The successful roll-out of the 16MW unit marks that my country's wind power equipment industry has achieved a historic leap from 'following' to 'running alongside' and then to 'leading', creating the latest benchmark for the development of global offshore wind power equipment.”

The CTG chief said the model was developed in the spirit of calls by Chinese authorities to independently develop advanced technology matching international standards in key sectors.

Goldwind chief engineer Zhai Endi added: "The 16MW unit has made important technological breakthroughs in the R&D and manufacturing of key core components such as large main shaft bearings and ultra-long lightweight blades.

"The digital level of unit operation status monitoring is high, and it can intelligently adjust the operation mode for severe weather such as typhoons."

There was no information on where or when the 16MW model would be first deployed in the statement announcing its roll out.

The Goldwind/CTG move comes soon after Chinese compatriot MingYang, which is also working on a 16MW model, said it will deploy a 14MW version next year, while Recharge revealed that CSSC Haizhuang will roll out its own 16.7MW offshore design.

The OEMs are targeting success in China’s huge domestic offshore wind market – now the largest in the world – and increasingly further afield, where they aim to offer an alternative to western rivals that have so far dominated outside Chinese waters.