China looks to enter local wind turbine market

China looks to enter local wind turbine market
President of China Xi Jinping shakes hands with Hydro Tasmania chairman Grant Every-Burns at a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Canberra

An investigation into the construction of a small wind farm in Tasmania using Chinese wind turbine generator technology was announced at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Canberra last November.

The signing of an agreement between Hydro Tasmania and Shenhua Group Corporation Limited related to a 10-30MW wind farm that would demonstrate current Chinese wind turbine generator technology, which has the potential to enter the Australian market.

The parties intend to build the testing site near one of the operating wind farms owned by Woolnorth Wind Farm Holdings to minimise cost to the project.

Woolnorth Wind Farm Holdings is a joint venture between Shenhua Clean Energy and Hydro Tasmania. The project – in which Shenhua Clean Energy has a 75 per cent stake, with Hydro Tasmania owning the remainder – owns the Musselroe (168MW), Studland Bay and Bluff Point wind farms (collectively known as Woolnorth and 75MW and 65MW respectively) in north-east and north-west Tasmania.

Hydro Tasmania and the Shenhua Group signed a strategic co-operation agreement in Beijing in April 2013 to investigate a joint Australian wind portfolio of up to 700MW by 2020. The Bank of China expressed interest in providing debt financing for the testing wind farm and is currently part of the syndicate that provided debt financing for the joint venture wind farms in Tasmania.

Hydro Tasmania chairman Grant Every-Burns said the approach would complement an existing successful joint venture at an appropriate size and scale for Australia’s uncertain renewable energy investment climate.

“We continue to look at potential projects for collaboration between the joint venture partners that are commensurate with the current risks in zero emissions energy investments,” he said.

“This project provides a significant opportunity to build on our successful relationship while providing a showcase for Chinese technology.”

The project would test the technical feasibility of new turbine generation technologies, including integration, operation and new design. It would involve technology from a number of existing Chinese manufacturers.

Hydro Tasmania has begun work on developing a proposal that also includes working with the Chinese manufacturers on Australian compliance and grid connectivity issues.