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International News From the Field: China

China remains the world leader in wind power generation, and the country only looks to grow in this sector. But as the saying goes: with great power comes ... a great need for large bearings. Read on to learn how manufacturers are responding.
Oct 04, 2022

China’s energy sector had its second-best year in 2021, reaching 837 GW capacity, according to the country’s Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).

China has the world’s largest wind power-installed base with a 338.1 GW capacity, which accounts for 40.40% of the total global installations. Wind power generation is increasing its share in China’s energy matrix, having reached 6.99% of total power generation in 2021. According to the National Energy Administration of China, the total installations for wind power and photovoltaic (306.4 GW until 2021) should be above 1,200 GW by 2030, with offshore wind power growing into a key segment.

Demand for heavy wind turbines has grown recently, which has increased bearing requirements for size, radial load, and stability. Furthermore, offshore wind turbines face tough challenges associated with corrosion resistance and sealing performance.

In response to the need for heavy wind turbines, global bearing manufacturers are accelerating mergers and acquisitions and expanding production capacity to meet the growing demand in addition to developing bearing processes suitable for large-megawatt wind turbines. New opportunities are presenting themselves in the switch to large-scale operations, especially for those already doing business with the key players in the segment. Here are a few examples:

  1. Timken is investing $45 million to double the existing facility in Xiangtan, Hunan. The company aims to manufacture large-sized bearings for wind turbines and heavy-duty metallurgical bearings.

  2. Schaeffler is investing in building a new facility with 240,000 square feet of floor space in Nanjing, Jiangsu. Plans are to manufacture large bearings with an outside diameter greater than 800 millimeters for wind turbines, gearboxes, and heavy-duty industries. The total annual output is projected to be 12,500 sets.

  3. SKF has developed a high-durability wind power gearbox bearing by adopting a combination of steel and heat treatment processes to significantly increase bearing lifetime – by up to five times.

Additionally, authorities’ stats for the existing wind turbine market and new installation plans for the next five years should boost China's wind power bearing market to exceed $2.64 billion in 2022, with a CAGR of 15.2% in 2021-25.

Some of the local major wind turbine bearing manufacturers, such as Wafangdian Bearing Group in Liaoning; LYC in Luoyang, Henan; Beijing JYB; Xuzhou Helin Slewing Bearing Co. in Jiangsu; and Zhejiang Tianma Bearing Group (TMB) are also implementing technological upgrades to meet the sharply rising demands.

For more information, please contact Fred Qian at fredqian@AMTchina.org.

Fred Qian
General Manager - Shanghai Technology and Service Center of AMT
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