Components for the world’s most powerful wind turbine have been rolled out by industrial manufacturing giant CSSC Haizhuang – part of the vast China State Shipbuilding Corporation – in a low-key unveiling at the Dongying City industrial park in the country’s north-east Shandong province.

As Recharge revealed last month, the gargantuan 18MW machine, which will fly a 260-metre-diameter rotor powering a modularised medium-speed geared drive-train and permanent magnet generator, eclipses marquee models from compatriots Goldwind and MingYang as well as the largest designs under development at the three big western OEMs, Vestas, Siemens Gamesa and GE.

CSSC Haizhuang said first displays of the H260-18.0 componentry “demonstrated that [the manufacturer] has mastered the core technologies of high-rating offshore wind turbines and key components, leading the global offshore wind power industry to reach a new milestone”.

Hailing the new record-setting design as its “aspirant to the [offshore wind] turbine crown”, the Chongqing-based OEM said the H260-18.0 – an evolution of its 16MW model – was “of far-reaching significance for promoting the Chinese energy transition and accelerating the reach of ‘30/60’ target [Beijing’s plan to be net zero by 2030 and carbon neutral by 2060]”.

The H260-18.0’s 128-metre SuperBlade+ blades, which feature load-reducing pitch control, will sweep a vast 53,000m2, equal to the area of seven football pitches. CSSC Haizhuang highlighted that the “platformisation” of its design was engineered with a view to a power-train “with requirements of balanced load, flexible matching of generator system and common blade model”.

The concept uses a “holographic sensing system” for overall load-reduction and control technology for variable pitch and torque backed by “multi-source online monitoring” to curb blade flutter – aeroelastic instability caused the combination of vibration and pressure distributions on the blades by 10% – and minimise vibrations in the turbine’s tower and foundations by 50%, according to the OEM.

“The adaptive power increasing control technology improves the power generation capacity by 3% for every turbine,” CSSC Haizhuang said, adding that each unit would produce 74,000MWh of electricity every year, enough to supply 40,000 households.

The higher output of the H260-18.0 would cut the number of units needed for a 1GW project by 13% compared to installation of its 16MW model, it said, with only 55 turbines rather than 63 required, shaving ¥1m ($150,000) off construction costs.

Record-setting 128-metre-long blade for CSSC Haizhuang's 18MW offshore wind turbine Photo: CSSC Haizhuang

“In 2022, China’s offshore wind market entered into the new era of grid parity. Under this situation, the wind industry focuses on how to achieve LCOE [levellised cost of energy] reduction and improving power generation. And there is no doubt that large-scale and high-reliability of wind turbine is an inevitable requirement for the scale-up development of wind power and cost reduction.

In 2021, China got the title as the world’s largest offshore wind installation capacity [with 12.7GW installed, according to World Forum Offshore Wind data],” said CSSC Haizhuang.

“The H260-18MW turbine… will make a great contribution to the improvement of turbine capacity and efficiency, as well as reducing the LCOE of offshore wind farms, and has market prospects in high-speed wind and deep-sea areas.”

CSSC Haizhuang noted that the 18MW model had been developed with “independent IP [intellectual property] rights, which improved the nationalisation rate of [the] turbine” with 80% of the design’s components, including blade, gearbox, generator being delivered by sister companies of the OEM.

“This will ultimately improve the manufacturing level of Chinese wind equipment industry, leading [to] the industrial upgrading [and] bringing significant social and economic benefits and embracing a broad prospect of industrialisation [in the country]”, the company said.