March 8, 2019

Foundations for Chinese wind farms fabricated at record-breaking speed

The first two of a total of approximately 500 offshore wind turbine foundations in Guangdong, China, have been designed and fabricated. Project developer SPIC Guangdong Offshore Wind Power Ltd. has secured permits for installation of 3.2 GW - enough to supply three million households with power.

China is accelerating wind power. In the Guangdong province alone, there are ambitious plans to install 15 to 20 GW. In comparison, all of Europe currently has less than 20 GW wind power capacity installed.

The monopiles at Guangdong that have now been fabricated are not only the largest in the world – they have a weight of 1,600 tonnes each compared to the current record of 1,300 tonnes – they are also installed at the greatest water depth seen for wind turbines in China so far: 37 metres.

The offshore wind farms will be located near the rapidly growing Chinese cities Shenzhen and Jieyang.

“Guangdong is the province with the highest GDP in mainland China, and it is also one of the richest and the most populous in the nation. In this province we see an increasing demand for energy as well as a demand to reduce air pollution in the cities. We can meet the demand from the population for clean energy with wind energy, which can now commercially compete with coal and other fossil fuels. So we need this wind farm now and we need it fast”, says Zhang Yi, Chief Engineer of SPIC Guangdong Electric Power Co., Ltd.

The first two monopiles were designed and fabricated at record-breaking speed. The demand for speed was one of the reasons why Danish engineering consultancy Ramboll was chosen as SPIC’s lead designer.

”Ramboll completed the design of the two monopiles super-fast so that the design and fabrication took less than 5 months, which is 2-3 times faster than usual. Our comprehensive experience from the design of offshore wind farms in Europe and our in-house design programme enabled us to do it so quickly,” says Ramboll Global Market Director Søren Juel Petersen.

Ramboll has worked with offshore wind in China since 2004 and was in 2015, as the first European consultancy, commissioned with the design of one of the country’s largest offshore wind farms SPIC Binhai North H1 in the Jiangsu province north of Shanghai. Since then Ramboll has won four other contracts in China, not least because Ramboll has designed more than 60% of all offshore wind turbine foundations in the world. Also, the company’s inhouse software program ROSAP (Ramboll Offshore Structural Analysis Package) enables the company to further optimize calculations of the steel required for the foundations, typically cutting steel costs by up to 20%.

In the Guangdong project Ramboll has provided consultancy on geotechnical and met ocean investigations and has applied ROSAP to calculate how the turbines, earthquakes, waves, current and tide will impact the structures and how they will react to typhons. The area was hit by no less than 18 typhoons during the 2018 typhoon season.