Typhoon leads to wind turbine generation record in China

The structure achieved 384.1 megawatt hours on Friday.
Loukia Papadopoulos
China Three Gorges Corporation's wind turbines.jpg
China Three Gorges Corporation's wind turbines.


Just two months ago, we reported that the installation of the world's largest offshore wind turbine was completed in China, making the 16-megawatt turbine fully operational and ready to provide much needed energy to the nation. The structure was built by the China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC) and it’s already breaking records thanks to Typhoon Haikui.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that the turbine broke the world record for single-day electricity generation on Friday, achieving 384.1 megawatt hours, and beating the previous record set in August in northern Denmark.

A joint effort

CTGC joined forces with the Goldwind Science and Technology company to engineer and build the turbine, installed in the Taiwan Strait, 20 miles (32.8 km) off the coast of Fujian in China's southeast. And it’s an impressive structure: the hub of the turbine boasts a height of nearly 500 feet (152 m), the equivalent of a 52-story building.

SCMP reported that the edge of the turbine’s blades can “reach up to 70 percent of the speed of sound, more than double the speed of a high-speed train.” Each blade has a diameter of 827 feet (252 m) and can sweep an area of over 500,000 square feet (50,000 sq m), roughly equivalent to seven international-level soccer fields. A single revolution of each blade can result in 34.2 kilowatt hours of energy produced.

In order to break the record of power generation by an offshore wind turbine, the structure functioned at full capacity for 24 hours straight, pushed by the winds of  Typhoon Haikui.

The turbine also boasts an intelligent system that can change the speed of its blades in real time, functioning at optimal capacity even in wind speeds greater than 25 meters per second.

The turbine is an impressive achievement, even more so considering that it was engineered and built almost entirely in China.

“From the manufacturing of core components like main bearing, to the breakthrough use of carbon fiber materials in the blade, 95 percent of the turbines are made in China. Key components such as generators and gearboxes are almost 100 per cent domestically produced,” Lei Mingshan, chairman of CTG, said in an official report last month, according to SCMP.

A specialized task force

Furthermore, a specialized task force was formed by the turbine’s engineers to handle  the important task of protecting the turbine, ensuring no damage occurred in the extreme weather events produced by the typhoon.

“We are closely monitoring critical components like the main control programme, pitch system and generators to gradually lift power restrictions while ensuring operational safety,” the task force told SCMP.

China has long had carbon-heavy energy consumption, making the country notoriously responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. However, it has been strongly investing in sustainable energy technologies including wind and solar.

The new turbine is a testament to the nation’s ingenuity and to the power of clean energy to substitute fossil fuels. Earlier this month, RIM, formerly the Rocky Mountain Institute, reported that wind and solar will supply over one-third of global electricity by 2030, led by countries in Europe and China.

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