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The wind blows off China

Written by Miriam Newman-Tancredi on 18 June 2019

China's ambitious targets for developing offshore wind energy create opportunities for innovative SMEs, as participants in a recent GBIP discovered

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Offshore China wind

© Getty Images

China has ambitious targets for developing offshore wind energy, installing 319 new turbines with a capacity of 1160MW, representing a 97% increase over the previous year. The cumulative capacity of the offshore wind power showed an explosive growth, from 150MW in 2010 to 2790MW in 2017. The Chinese offshore wind market is expected to be the largest in the world in the 2020s.

 

To learn more about this opportunity, Innovate UK and EEN organised a Global Business Innovation Programme in March this year to the Shandong and Guangdong provinces - the main provinces for investment in windpower. 11 UK SMEs from the offshore wind sector participated, pitching their innovative solutions to Chinese companies and investors and gaining insight into what it takes to successfully do business in China.

 

One of the participants was David Latimer, CEO of Sheffield-based Magnomatics, a company which is developing and manufacturing products based on its magnetic gear technology which is highly suited to marine propulsion, wind power, actuation and rail traction. We asked him about his experience of the GBIP.

 

What prompted your interest in this GBIP and the Chinese market?

 

We took part in a previous mission to China in 2018 that highlighted that this will be a strong market for wind in the years to come. We were already in talks with some specific organisations, such as TusPark  and the ORE Catapult with whom we have a close relationship, so it gave us the opportunity to meet them. We have identified in the Chinese market a willingness to consider new technologies so we also wanted to find new possible partners and better understand the market and opportunities there.

 

What were your perceptions of the Chinese market before the trip, and what did you learn once there?

I thought that, in the Chinese market, wind turbine capital cost was more important than the cost of energy, therefore compromising the potential to lower the latter. However, I learned that the cost of energy is becoming more important, and hence so is efficiency.

I knew that the market is big and continues to grow, and I learnt that some suppliers are struggling with the development of much larger generators, creating an interest in new generator technology.

 

What was the most rewarding? What benefits has the trip brought to yourself and to your business?

EEN has been very helpful in expanding our network of international contacts and we have valued that support. We were able to meet many organisations such as Mingyang (the largest private wind turbine manufacturer in China), TUS Wind, CRRC, Sinovel, and Guangdong Province. We have received some strong interest and are now negotiating terms. The visit has enabled me to better understand the market and develop personal relationships with some key players in the Chinese market and amongst the other mission delegates.

 

Selection for this visit ensured that participant companies received the services of EEN advisers before, during and after the visit, supporting them in their growth ambitions. Get in touch here to be informed of upcoming trips and to benefit from similar EEN support.

 

The visit has enabled me to better understand the market and develop personal relationships with some key players in the Chinese market

 

David Latimer, CEO, Magnomatics