Offshore wind in China: Sharing the UK’s policy experience

How the UK, with more than a decade of experience in offshore wind deployment, can play a key role in helping China develop its offshore wind potential.

Offshore wind farm China

Publication date: May 2014

The UK’s world leadership position in offshore wind could be critical in helping China overcome a number of key barriers to developing its vast offshore wind resource.  This series of reports by the Carbon Trust looks at how the UK, with more than a decade of experience in offshore wind deployment, can play a key role in helping China develop its offshore wind potential.

China has set a number of targets in relation to offshore wind including a deployment target of 5 GW of offshore wind by 2015 and 30 GW by 2030. At present some 1GW of near shore projects are under development but are facing a number of technical and commercial barriers in moving forward at the rate required to meet the Government targets.  Barriers include uncertainty over an effective and efficient long-term pricing policy that is needed by project developers while ensuring consumers are protected from high costs, a slow consenting regime and the lack of a focussed innovation programme to drive costs out of the deployment process.

The research proposes a number of policy instruments, developed to accelerate the roll out of offshore wind in the UK, be applied to China to speed up their offshore programme and help ensure government targets are met in a cost effective way.  The research was undertaken working closely with the wind industry in China and involved participation of over 20 Chinese companies and undertaking two workshops in Beijing.

The research concludes that China should consider:

  • Developing an effective publicly funded research and demonstration programme to commercialise new cost reducing innovations.
  • Developing an offshore wind capital grants scheme to improve the government’s awareness of the commercial realities of developing offshore wind in Chinese waters and support R&D and technology testing
  • Developing an effective on-going price support mechanism to balance developer incentives with government costs to ensure value for money for electricity consumers and tax payers.
  • Developing an effective zoning policy to accelerate planning by relaxing constraints in identified development zones;

Three key recommendations for action:

  • Collaborate on European Joint Industry Projects: Engage with European demonstrator programmes to enable better understanding of innovations to reduce costs of offshore wind. For example, the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator has demonstrated several innovations, including: twisted jackets and gravity based foundations, sea trials for access vessels and floating LIDAR validation. For example, the use of floating LIDARs for wind resource data capture instead of traditional met masts can bring the cost down from up to  €10m to under €1m
  • Develop Operational Experience through Co-Investment: Invest with European developers to both get a return on investment but also to build operational capabilities for cost reduction. An example is Marubeni’s co-invested in Gunfleet Sands offshore wind farm in the UK with Dong Energy.
  • Establish Offshore Wind Farm Zones to give Confidence to the Market: Deploy a marine spatial planning tool to support the creation of leasing zones for future rounds of offshore wind development in China and to avoid delays in the consenting process. In the UK, the Crown Estate led this activity. In China, a combination of the National Energy Administration , State Oceanic Administration  and the Chinese Meteorological Administration could be entities to take this forward.

This work was funded by The British Embassy in Beijing and was supported by the Chinese Wind Energy Association (CWEA) and CECEP Wind-Power Corporation.

More about our work on offshore wind

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