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UK to help build Chinese wind farms

By Angus McNeice in London | | Updated: 2017-11-17 01:40

British companies will join forces with Chinese developers of offshore wind farms, as part of a new program that lends British expertise to China's $100 billion wind power expansion plans.

The newly formed International Offshore Renewable Energy Research Platform will see United Kingdom companies work on technical solutions for wind farms in the South China Sea, where China plans to install 5 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2020.

The platform is funded by British innovation agent Innovate UK and overseen by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, a research center based in Glasgow.

"The UK has a lot of experience in offshore technology and there is massive expansion in China. It's a good opportunity to take our technology and know-how and use it internationally," said James Battensby, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult's technical bid manager.

The UK is a world leader in offshore wind, with a total of 5.3 gW of installed offshore wind capacity, which is more than a third of the global total of 14.4 gW. China has installed 1.6 gW of offshore capacity, and will add a further 5 gW during the next three years. China will invest $100 billion in wind energy projects during the next three years.

The new platform will commence in December with a series of workshops during which Chinese developers will set specific technical challenges that UK companies will address.

UK businesses will then be partnered with Chinese developers to conduct research, with a view to taking new technology forward to commercial application.

Battensby said the Chinese side will be looking for support from British experts in cable and foundation installation, operation and maintenance, turbine optimization, and general wind farm planning and development.

"After developing applied research, the UK firms will be ideally placed to sell products and services," Battensby said. "While previous collaborations with China have been academic, this is important as it gives technology developers a direct opportunity to win business in the flourishing Chinese market."

Earlier this year, the British Chamber of Commerce Shanghai announced plans for an Offshore Wind Hub that will facilitate the entry of specialist UK companies into China.

Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of RenewableUK, told China Daily that offshore wind is "a massive opportunity for both countries".

"Both governments support shared learning between businesses," Smith said. "The UK is the leading market for offshore in the world and has developed a lot of expertise in the development, construction and operation of offshore wind. And China has a very ambitious offshore wind program as part of its overall need to decarbonize and shift to cleaner fuels."

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