Currently, in the backdrop of global energy transition and carbon neutral, it is highly expected by almost all countries to promote the development of green energy like wind power so as to achieve net-zero emissions and ensure energy security. Meanwhile, with the exploitation of land-based high-quality wind resources, offshore wind power has been recognized as a development trend for the foreseeable future.
Compared with onshore wind power, offshore wind power resources are more abundant with high stability and wind speed. Research points out that the most critical factor in wind power generation is the wind speed, for which offshore wind has an edge over onshore wind, with wind speed at 10 km offshore usually 20% higher than along the coast. The power generated by wind turbines is proportional to the third power of wind speed, so the annual power generation capacity of offshore wind turbines can be 70% higher than that of onshore under the same conditions. Also, there are few quiet periods at sea, so wind turbines can work for longer periods. Generally speaking, the annual working hours of onshore wind turbines are about 2000 hours, while offshore wind turbines often reach more than 3000 hours.
In addition, the construction of offshore wind farms is not subject to land construction, urban planning and other restrictions, so they are more flexible. With the high efficiency of power generation, close to the load center, convenient transportation by waterway, less land resources used, easy for large-scale development and other advantages, offshore wind power is widely considered to be the future of the power generation.
World Bank data shows that there is a huge potential for global offshore wind power development. The world's available offshore wind power resources is estimated to be more than 71,000 GW. According to Global Wind Energy Report 2022, the CAGR of global offshore wind power in the next five years is expected to reach 8.3%, and the cumulative newly installed capacity from 2022 to 2026 will exceed 90 GW, ushering in a new era of large-scale and rapid development.
At the same time, building larger wind turbines is currently one of the most important ways to reduce costs, in addition to greater power generation capacity and higher efficiency. The logic of larger wind turbines leading to cost reduction is that, although it may increase the cost of a single turbine, but due to the increase in the capacity of a single turbine, the number of wind turbines required to be installed throughout the wind farm is reduced, so the wind turbine foundation, submarine cables, construction and installation and operation of the investment will be reduced, and ultimately spread to the unit capacity of the wind turbine cost and other aspects of the cost will be significantly reduced. According to the projection, for 1GW offshore wind power project, the use of 14MW wind turbine will save $100 million investment than the use of 10MW wind turbine.
As offshore wind power requires more professional technology, with a wider range of applicability, allowing the turbine unit more large-scale, the prospects of offshore wind power will be more broad than onshore wind power in the future of the global energy supply chain. For wind power equipment, the land terrain is complex, high roughness, wind speed at different heights often varies greatly, resulting in wind shear and turbulence, making the wind turbine up and down uneven forces, can lead to blade vibration, fatigue and even fracture, while the transmission system is also prone to damage. But such risks can be avoid for offshore wind. In addition, most of the offshore wind farms are constructed in tens of kilometers from the coast, close to the center of electricity, basically no risk of wind abandonment. At the same time, as the capacity of the wind turbine becomes larger and larger, the blade length also increased dramatically. Blades with 60 meters or even hundreds of meters of length are very difficult to transport, but in the sea they can be shipped directly from the blade factory to the wind farm.
Statistics show that the average capacity of new offshore wind power installed in Europe is currently increasing from 7.2 MW in 2019 to 8.2 MW in 2020. With the increase in demand, the turbine capacity is becoming increasingly large. According to the Global Wind Energy Association’s forecast, in the next five years, the offshore wind turbine blade length of 185-220 meters will become the mainstream of the industry. In addition, according to GWEC's forecast, offshore wind turbine capacity will reach 15-17MW in 2025, and power up to 20MW will gradually become a reality.
Previously, Siemens Gomersa released the SG14 DD offshore wind turbine model with an impeller diameter of 222 meters and a higher efficiency of 15MW in 2020 and will be officially commercialized in 2024. After Siemens Gomezza launched 14MW offshore wind turbine, GE launched Haliade X 14MW offshore wind turbine again to 14MW, the scale of a total of 1.2GW, the project is expected to start in 2025 and operation in 2026. This model will become the world's largest offshore wind turbine in terms of power rating, sharing the title of the world's largest offshore wind turbine with Siemens Gomezza. In addition, in February 2021, Vestas unveiled the V236-15MW offshore wind model, a series expected to be in mass production in 2024. in October 2021, GE Renewables said it had begun operating a 14MW offshore wind turbine prototype in the waters off Rotterdam, the Netherlands, a wind turbine almost three times the total height of the Statue of Liberty and its pedestal.
However, with the significant trend of large-scale offshore wind turbines, it is clear that the current installation vessels have been unable to meet the future market demand for new offshore wind power installation, a new generation of ultra-large offshore wind turbine installation and construction of ship technology and quantity shortage problems need to be solved.
China Merchants Industry Holding(CMIH), one of the leading shipbuilders in China, has taken the lead in breaking the ice and successfully launched a new generation of 1600-ton offshore wind power installation platform with 100% intellectual property rights and a forward-looking layout for the next 10 years. The platform meets the installation and operation and maintenance needs of the latest ultra-large offshore wind turbines, breaking the industry trend of long-term monopoly by a few foreign enterprises and providing the global wind power market with a high-quality, superior performance offshore wind power installation solution.
It is worth noting that one of the core keys to building a large offshore wind power installation platform is the high-end equipment package, such as jacking system, heavy lift cranes and electronic control systems. In this regard, CMIC, with nearly 30 years of experience in the global offshore industry, successfully won the order for the core equipment package of the new generation of 1600-ton offshore wind power installation platform (CM-1600-X). On May 17, 2022, the first order of "CM-1600-X" offshore wind power installation platform, developed and designed by CMIH, was officially started at China Merchants Heavy Industries (Jiangsu) Shipyard in Haimen, Jiangsu, and is expected to be delivered in June 2023.
The project adopts, for the first time, the core system equipment such as 1600T heavy duty pile winding crane, lifting device and the whole ship electric control system, which are independently developed and manufactured by CMIC. Among them, the heavy lift crane is 360 degree full rotation, equipped with two sets of 1200T main hooks and one set of 800T secondary hooks, with the operating capacity of 1600T@35m and 1200T@45m, and the maximum lifting height of 195m for the main hook and 210m for the secondary hook on the water; the jacking system is designed for the wind power installation platform, with a design fatigue life of 3000 hours (≥2500 times), hull lifting speed 0.8m/min, pile leg lifting speed 1.0m/min. The project is an important example of responding to CMIH’s reinforcement to cultivate heavy industry equipment support, which enhances the industry competitiveness for CMIH to receive subsequent orders and enables it to continuously export high-end offshore products to the market; it is also a typical case of China Merchants Leasing and its partners to build an industrial ecology. The smooth start of the project marks a new breakthrough in the key parameters of core equipment such as heavy cranes, jacking systems and full set electronic control for the new generation of large-scale offshore wind power installation platforms, and also marks a new breakthrough in the transformation of CMIC aiming at the green energy market, extending the strength and experience of high-end drilling equipment manufacturing to the next generation of large-size offshore wind power installation, and forming complete sets of green high-end equipment products for the solutions.
In fact, CMIC has been cultivating in the field of high-end equipment manufacturing for oil and gas for many years, and after decades of development, has solved several "bottle-neck" problems in the traditional oil and gas offshore and new energy wind power offshore fields, and has accumulated rich experience in high-end equipment design and manufacturing, operation and maintenance services, asset management, etc., and also has a complete production design, manufacturing, quality control, supply chain management system, and a global service network and sales channels. In the past two years, during the booming development of China's offshore wind power market, the company has provided a number of equipment and solutions for the domestic wind power installation / operation and maintenance platform.
In the future, CMIC will continue to accelerate the technology iteration in the field of ultra-large offshore wind power installation and operation and maintenance vessels, optimize and improve the system integration efficiency and stable operation cycle, gradually expand the market share, establish a set of offshore wind power whole industry chain, independent intellectual property rights of the hard core technology brand, and accelerate the process of building a global offshore wind power whole industry chain hard technology leader.