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China plans wind monitoring system

National monitoring systems for wind turbines could help create better evalutation standards

China's wind market has a total capacity of 62.4GW

China is planning to set up a national wind-power monitoring system to encourage better plant management and higher quality equipment, according to a government researcher.

The monitoring system – which is still at the planning stage – would collect data on availability and average utilisation hours, said Hu Runqing, professor at the Energy Research Institute (ERI) of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Recharge News reported.

Speaking at the China Wind Energy Equipment Association conference in Shanghai, Hu said the monitoring system aims to promote “the elimination of backward equipment”.

“We have over 80 turbine makers but no standards for evaluation. They all claim to be good, but there’s no third-party certifier and no open measurement and evaluation system.”

Hu’s research institute belongs to the influential NDRC, which oversees the country’s energy policy.

The ERI wants to establish a system to publish performance data for wind farms that includes information on failures and accidents. It is not clear when the monitoring system will be established, she added.

China’s wind industry has grown rapidly in recent years to become the world’s largest market with a total capacity of 62.4GW.

However, faulty equipment and a series of large-scale power outages last year have raised concerns about quality and safety.

Last year the government introduced new standards requiring all turbine manufacturers to install low-voltage ride-through (LVRT) capability in their machines. It also launched an industry-wide inspection of operating wind farms.

Concerns remain however. In February, two engineers died when a turbine caught fire as they were repairing a converter malfunction, according to a State Electricity Regulatory Commission report.

“We still don’t master the core technologies,” says Sun Honghang, an official at the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). “There’s still a gap to match international, advanced levels.”

International wind turbine makers say a lack of transparent information on availability in China has lowered the entry barrier for manufacturers.

Availability indicates the machine’s capability to operate when the wind is blowing, and is used as a key performance indicator by the industry.