Western turbine makers could have more success in the Chinese offshore sector than onshore because of the greater reliability of their turbines, MHI Vestas chief executive Philippe Kavafyan tells Recharge.

Onshore wind tenders in China usually have the cost of the turbine as the determining factor, rather than the cost of energy, as is the norm in the West — encouraging developers to install cheap turbines and then fix them when required. Such a strategy will not work in offshore wind, he explained at WindEurope Offshore yesterday.

“The emphasis of [offshore] developers in China will be to secure reliable technology upfront,” he said. “It is easy to fix a machine onshore. But if you start having to fix technology that is not robust offshore… well, I hope you don’t have to sail too far.”

China’s preference for domestic turbines that have a shorter track record offshore may hold back the sector in the short term, Kavafyan added.

He also said that only part of the 40GW-plus of offshore projects vying to be completed by the end- 2021 feed-in tariff deadline are likely to be built in time.

“This idea that [the Chinese market] is 40GW and it will outpace the UK [in offshore wind capacity], I am very sceptical about that. The UK is increasing its targets, and that’s a place where we can deliver more, and we know how to deliver very cost effectively.

“Saying the UK is not going to stay [as] the first market in the world, in my view, is a very strong extrapolation.

“People are talking about China, but today there is much more to do in the UK and over in Europe than we have to do in China. That is for sure.”

MHI Vestas so far is not present in China, but the company is paying attention to what is going on there, and expects the company’s turbines to be installed in Chinese waters within the next five years.