Installation of world's largest 16-megawatt wind turbine underway in SE China
Updated 15:31, 27-Jun-2023

All main engine combinations of China's giant offshore wind turbine, featuring the world's largest per-unit capacity, were hoisted in place in east China's Fujian Province on Monday. The installation of the wind turbine, which has an installed capacity of 16 megawatts, is expected to be completed in a few days.

The wheel hub of the wind turbine is 152 meters high, equal to the height of a 50-story building, and is 34 meters higher than that of normally applied 10-megawatt offshore wind turbines.

Fitted with 123-meter-long blades, the wind turbine can sweep an area of about 50,000 square meters, equivalent to seven standard football fields.

Each main engine is composed of thousands of parts, with a total weight of 413 tonnes, equivalent to the weight of more than 270 cars. That massive weight brings great challenges to the hoisting process as assemblers lift the engines onto hubs.

"The weight and height of the engine requires extremely high performance of the installation vessel during hoisting. The Baihetan vessel, which will be used for the installation, is China's most advanced wind power installation facility that integrates functions including transport and self-elevation," said Feng Wei, chief coordinator of the Baihetan vessel. 

Feng said the vessel has a lift capacity of 2,000 tonnes and enables underwater operation at a maximum depth of 70 meters. It can meet the needs of deep-sea integrated offshore wind turbine construction.

The difficulty of heavy lifting is made even more complex by operating offshore. As assemblers begin the installation process on the hoisted engines, they are racing against time to complete the task while conditions remain fair.

"The sea conditions in this area are complicated, so the construction window period is very short for the 16-megawatt wind turbine hoisting. At present, there are 133 workers on the Baihetan installation platform. They will work in three shifts and maintain continuous installation 24 hours a day, sparing no effort to complete the installation of all 16 megawatts engines by Wednesday," said Jia Xiaogang, executive director for the Fuzhou Strait region under the Fujian Branch of China Three Gorges Corporation.

Upon the completion of the engine installation, the construction team will hoist the wind turbine blades. The 16-megawatt wind farm is expected to become China's largest offshore wind turbine plant.

When running at rated power, the turbine generates 34.2 kilowatt-hours of electricity per rotation, which can support a family of three for a week. It can generate more than 66 million kilowatt-hours of clean electricity per year, meeting the annual electricity needs of 36,000 households.

The power generation system, which is responsible for converting wind energy captured by the impeller into electricity, is one of the most critical parts of offshore wind turbines.

The self-developed generator of the 16-megawatt offshore wind turbine has realized a weight reduction to about 20 tonnes, marking a technological breakthrough in the miniaturization of large-capacity generators.

Its large main shaft bearing and ultra-long, lightweight blades are also domestically produced.

Hundreds of sensors also cover the wind turbine along with laser radar that can sense temperature, humidity and wind speed to track the operating status. Empowered by intelligent systems, it can automatically adjust the angle and regulate the power when facing harsh weather conditions.

The application of digital and intelligent systems improves the environmental adaptability of the wind turbine, making it possible to be widely applied on the southeastern coast of China.

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