The competition to build the world’s largest wind turbines continues with China’s Mingyang Wind Power surprising the industry at a conference last week pushing the offshore category to unimaginable levels. The company looks to increase output by nearly a third, announcing that they are now in development for an offshore wind turbine rated for 22 MW which they expect to complete between 2024 and 2025.
Analysts point to the compelling economic case for these massive turbines, if they can be realized. Increasing the sweep area provides an exponential increase in output. While the cost of these ultra-large turbines is also ultra-large, the yield is believed to make a compelling case. The turbines will be extremely expensive to produce and very costly to install. The economics however mean a company will be able to increase yield or decrease the number of turbines. This will lower the overall cost of the site development versus the larger number of smaller turbines required for the same output.
The 22 MW offshore turbine however will be gigantic. The company points to a rotor of more than 1,017 feet. This size means it will stand taller than famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Chrysler Building in New York. The sweep area would be more than 800,000 square feet.
Mingyang produced the longest blades for offshore wind designed to give its 16 MW turbine a diameter of 853 feet (Mingyang)
Mingyang points out it is possible to achieve these sizes due to the advancements in manufacturing and lightweight carbon fiber technology. Because China is prone to typhoons, the blades will not only be strong and resilient, the new 22 MW turbine is designed to operate at wind speeds of up to 19 to above 22 mph. Further, they said it will be able to work either as a fixed-bottom installation or floating wind.
This comes last than a year after Mingyang began the rollout of its 16 MW wind turbine. Several companies, including both CSSC and Mingyang, are working to leapfrog ahead to 18 MW turbines. The Chinese are ahead of the European manufacturers which have been encountering problems with some of their turbines.
In December 2022, Mingyang marked the launch of its largest blades for offshore turbines. Using modular construction, they rolled out the new MySE260. It has a diameter of 853 feet and a sweep area of more than 571,000 square feet. They highlighted that the blades have the potential when teamed with the 16 MW turbine to annually produce 67 million kilowatt hours.
When the 18 MW goes into service it is expected to use blades measuring 459 feet in length, longer than the expected 420 feet for CSSSC’s design. By comparison, in 2023 the company also marked the introduction of the largest blades to give its onshore wind turbines diameters ranging between 700 and 754 feet. The longest onshore blades came off the company’s production line in May 2023.
China needs to continue to upsize its wind turbines if it is to reach the government’s ambitious declarations. Compound annual growth for China’s installed offshore wind power capacity will need to exceed 75 percent in the next few years. Manufacturers such as Mingyang expect the industry to enter a period of rapid growth. They point out that since 2019 they have moved from 8 to 10 MW to 11 MW and now 12 MW, with the 16 MW now going into production. In less than a decade, they project to have more than tripled the power generation of their offshore wind turbines.
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