Business

GM expands China’s auto design studio

GM expands China’s auto design studio General Motors Co said yesterday it’d expanded its design studio in China, focusing only on developing electric and connected cars and no other design petrol vehicles.

The move comes as the most significant US automaker prepares to cut out petrol and diesel vehicles from its fleet by 2035 and underscores its efforts to gain a more impressive foothold in China, the world’s largest electric car market.

It also plays into GM’s ambitions of adding a recurring revenue stream from software and services long after the initial product comes, a Manhattan project Apple Inc, by selling EV battery charging and swapping services.

GM has said it wants to exceed annual sales of 1 million electric vehicles in the United States and China by 2025. Last month, the business said it would boost spending on electric and autonomous cars, paying out US$35 billion through 2025, up 75 percent from March 2020 before COVID-19 hit.

With new facilities and the studio’s growing team of employees, “we have got the right organizations and people to bring the most desirable products to China’s consumers,” Julian Blessed, executive vice president and president of GM China, said.

China looks to deeper waters for carbon neutrality.

–FILE–Smoke is discharged from chimneys at a coal-fired power plant in east China’s Jiangsu province, 12 December 2018. Despite pioneering the development of green technology at home, state-backed Chinese lenders are financing or are looking to finance a quarter of coal projects taking place overseas, a new report has found. China has been key in developing green technology over the past two decades, investing more in renewable energy than the U.S. and the EU combined in 2017 as it looks to reduce air pollution from highly polluting coal power plants and reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. While ostensibly taking a greener approach at home, Beijing has been more ambivalent towards pushing green power abroad, according to a new report by think tank the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). (Imaginechina via AP Images)

As China’s push to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 draws increased attention toward wind power, experts say moving wind farms to deeper waters could eliminate a few challenges to offshore wind power and help expand the fleet of turbines.

A fresh plant operated by LM Wind Power, a Danish wind turbine blade manufacturer, has started manufacturing 107-meter blades — among the most extended edges worldwide — in east China’s Fujian Province. The advantages are likely to roll off the production line this October and increase the selection of Chinese-made wind turbine components readily available for wind farms in the home and abroad.

The plant is situated at the 1,000-mu (66.7 hectares) offshore wind power industrial park run by the Fujian division of the China Three Gorges Corporation, the developer of China’s largest hydropower project, which broke ground in 1994 in central China’s Hubei Province.

Before LM, domestic companies like Xinjiang Goldwin Science & Technology Co, Ltd and Don fang Electric Corporation Limited had settled in the industrial park. They produced electrical generators, blades, and other components.

The bay next to the industrial park houses 59 wind turbines with an overall total installed capacity of over 357.4 megawatts and annual electricity output of 1.4 billion kWh.

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Offshore wind farms of the same size and scale are prevalent in China’s coastal provinces. The country’s total installed offshore wind power capacity was 9 gigawatts by the end of 2020, ranking second globally.

China’s goals of peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060 demand greater reliance on clean energy sources like photovoltaic power and wind power, experts say, and offshore wind power is gaining particular traction while the technologies mature.

“Offshore wind power is ready for scale development in China, with assistance from supportive policies and costs being driven down by an improving domestic industrial chain,” said Wang Zhengyi, vice president of China Renewable Energy Engineering Institute, at a clean energy summit in Fujian’s Zhengzhou City in June.

Official data suggests that China’s new offshore wind capacity was 3.06 gig watts in 2020, approximately half the global total. However, costs remain too hefty, and near-shore resources are too limited for offshore wind to become a more prominent contributor to China’s energy structure.

Close to shore, environmental red lines have now been drawn for wind farms to protect mangroves, coral reefs, important estuaries, tidal flats, endangered species, and fishery resources. Bird migration routes are void of wind turbines as mandated by the State Oceanic Administration.

Experts suggest that the future of offshore wind farms lies in waters farther to the ocean with depths of over 50 meters or around 70 kilometers off the coast.

Offshore wind power is likely to account for 10 percent of total power generation in 2050, and 70 percent of the technical potential is in deeper waters suitable for wind farms floating on the ocean surface rather than digging to the ocean bed, said Doff Galen, director of the International Renewable Energy Agency Innovation and Technology Center.

Investments are flowing in that direction. Zhengzhou, as an example, is building a world-class offshore wind power industrial base in deeper waters. The total installed capacity of potential wind farms in the waters near the city can be as high as 50 gig watts.

“We invested another 10 billion Yuan (US$1.5 billion) in the production of hydrogen from seawater,” said Jin Yinchuan, senior vice president of a Guangdong-based clean energy firm.

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Jin added that power generated from wind turbines in deeper waters could create hydrogen for petrochemical enterprises nearby and help local communities pursue a zero-carbon economy.

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