With 128-meter blades in diameter, the prototype has greater wind capturing capacity and is more efficient at utilizing wind resources than other wind turbines, said Tao. Tao said indigenous production of the huge wind turbine will accelerate development of offshore wind power in the country.
Given the growing scarcity of land resources and emission reduction targets, European countries and the United States are pushing development of offshore wind power.
Over the next decade, Britain and France plan to install 7,600 offshore wind turbines — each unit with a capacity of more than 5MW.
China is also racing to tap offshore wind power. The first 100MW offshore wind farm went into operation in Shanghai in August 2010, with 34 Sinovel made 3MW turbines installed.
In the same year, China completed public tender for offshore wind farms totaling 1GW in capacity in the eastern Jiangsu Province. Construction of the wind farms will start this year. Sinovel is looking to develop 10 MW wind turbines, according to Tao.
Other Chinese wind turbine makers are also developing large capacity turbines. Xiangtan Electrical Machinery Co. Ltd. (XEMC), based in central Hunan Province, produced a 5MW prototype last October.
Before 2000, the domestic wind turbine market almost exclusively relied on equipment imported from Europe. Shi Pengfei, vice president of China Wind Energy Commission (CWEA), says the introduction of wind power concession projects and preferential feed-in tariff policy for wind power has boosted localized production since 2000.
Chinese wind turbine makers have expanded output through licensed production or joint design with foreign partners. China has over 80 wind turbine makers.
The top three wind turbine markers in the country, Sinovel, Goldwind and Dongfang Electric, are among the top 10 makers in the world.
By the end of 2010, domestic cumulative wind farm installed capacity amounted to 44.7GW, the largest in the world, and accounted for 23 percent of the world total, according to the CWEA.