The global market for offshore renewables is growing quickly, creating both opportunity and competition for UK businesses. The TUS-ORE Catapult Research Centre (TORC) established in 2019, has already been very successful in identifying commercial opportunities for UK companies, introducing dozens of UK SME technology developers to the Chinese market, while also developing a research programme with Chinese Research Councils and UK universities.
TORC is a joint venture company established by Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult Development Services Ltd (Northumberland, UK), TUS Wind Technology Co Ltd (Beijing, China), and TUS Mingshi Science and Innovation Co Ltd (Yantai, China). Its main office is located in the Yantai city Hi-Tech Development Zone, Shandong Province with offices established in Beijing and Shenzhen, Guangdong Province.
Following a virtual ceremony in June 2020, eight UK organisations from diverse backgrounds in Formula 1, robotics, oil and gas, marine energy and digital, signed agreements to develop renewable energy technologies, services and research in China.
One of those eight organisations, Oxford-based SME Anakata Wind Power Ltd, successfully installed its innovative wind turbine blade enhancements, which can improve energy output by up to 10% on a turbine at China’s Gansu Changma wind farm.
This was the first time such innovative blade aerodynamic add-ons, which are quick, safe and easy to install, have been used on a Chinese wind farm. The Anakata blade ‘winglets’ and other Formula 1-inspired rotor add-on devices, some particularly targeted at mitigating blade leading-edge erosion, can be retrofitted to turbine blades to enhance their performance and increase energy production.
China is predicted to become the world’s largest offshore wind market, with the Chinese Government having investing $100bn in wind power. China currently has more than 12GW of offshore wind installed – with many estimates indicating capacity could exceed 50GW by 2030. With the offshore wind industry expected to provide UK companies with a £2.6bn export opportunity by 2030, the potential prize has never been greater for innovative companies that can act now and establish themselves in the market.