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CWEA Interview with Chairman Flender China Dr. Gou

Referring to the groundbreaking ceremony for the new hall in Tianjin, China, last month the China Wind Energy Association interviewed Flender Chairman Dr. Gou


On April 1, Gou Jian Hui was appointed Chairman of the Board of Flender China. After a four-year departure from wind power, Gou Jian Hui returned to head the China division of another global wind components giant. He believes that LCoE is a general trend, and the cost pressure brought by equipment manufacturers can be alleviated through the development of large megawatt wind turbine technology and product platform, and finally achieve wind power parity by technological innovation.

At parity era, innovation and technological strength are the key factor

Q: What benefit will China's "30·60 target" bring to the wind power industry?

A :China has put forward the "30·60 dual carbon target" and put it into practice.  The commitment of EU countries to carbon emission reduction and the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement are all favorable for the wind power industry, which drives the supporting policies of different countries governments and the long-term strategic focus and layout of enterprises in the wind power field. Although individual periods of market fluctuations cannot be avoided, but in the long run, wind power will usher in a new period of stable development

Q :After LCoE of wind power, what new situation does China's wind power market face? What do you think are the characteristics of wind power technology products?

A :China's wind technology iteration is accelerating significantly.  In the past, it took six to eight years for wind turbine power rating capacity to grow from 750kW to 1.5MW and then to 3MW. Since the birth of the onshore 4MW model, the wind turbine is accelerating to large megawatt iteration, the product development time is greatly shortened, and the product life cycle in the market competition is only 2~3 years.  The number of sold-out units after a model is developed can hardly exceed 1000 units.  Whereas the law of traditional industrial design is that a generation of mechanical and electrical products must go through a certain application cycle, constantly find problems, solve problems, improve and optimize, and finally stabilize in the optimal state.  Excessive fast iteration speed not only tends to leave defects and sequelae of products, bringing painful experience and burden to customers in the process of use, but also deprives engineers of the fun of polishing fine products in the traditional sense, making products unable to bring higher value to customers. LCoE is the general trend of wind power industry development, the sustainable development of any industry cannot be maintained by subsidies.  The cost pressure caused by LCoE can only be alleviated through the development of large-megawatt wind turbine technology.  Because of material costs, quality costs and management costs, the room for low-price competition is very limited.  To meet the challenge of cost reduction, in the final analysis, it is all about technological innovation and technological strength.  In the future, the development of offshore wind power will further challenge the technical capabilities of manufacturers, but also the best "test room" to show the technical level and product reliability of each.  This will involve the entire supply chain, and any weakness will lead to defects in the entire wind turbine system. In our opinion, the product cost reduction desired by customers is not necessarily a reduction in the absolute value of the initial purchase cost, but the expectation of the product's contribution to the customer's KWH cost. In the future, the development trend of wind turbine drive train technology will be integration and lightweight, that is, the power density and torque density of the drive train will continue to improve.

Q :What are the reasons for you to return to wind power and joining Flender?

A :I like challenges, and I am willing to lead the team to develop my career and achieve talents, especially the things I have never experienced are very attractive to me. In the past, I have helped a German company achieve success in Greater China and worked for two Chinese companies to make significant progress in both domestic and international markets.  Flender is both in post-investment management and in the new energy field, which is full of challenges and fun.

Build brand value with quality

Q :You have rich experience in the mechanical manufacturing industry, what do you think is the technical advantage of Flender? What market positioning will be established?

A :Flender is a century-old German company founded in 1899. It has been the global market and technology leader in the field of power transmission, and its pioneering hard tooth surface gear technology has become the global industry technical standard. Flender is both the founder's name and the company's name, as well as the brand of its industrial gearboxes, and its second brand is Winergy Wind Gearboxes and generators.  Not long ago, I visited a wind operator who told me of their positive impressions of Flender in the thermal power industry and in heavy-duty equipment such as mining machinery.  All kinds of harsh and heavy work environment, often better reflects the reliability of Flender equipment. When they saw the Flender/Winergy brand again in the wind power business, they felt genuinely confident.  With 40 years of experience in wind power, Winergy has become a global leader in wind power drive trains due to its continuous, dedicated and advanced concept.  In the early stage of wind power development, the risks are very large, and Winergy has always been the first enterprise to "take the initiative". Many of the product designs, processes and procedures developed by Winergy have become recognized industry standards. In addition, we have many advanced patented technologies.  When the market demands, Winergy always provides the right solution.  In addition, Winergy also have strict product development process, simulation calculation tools based on rich database, strict testing process and strict production process and quality assurance system. It is the world's only integrated system supplier integrating wind power gearbox and generator and has delivered more than 100 million kilowatts (100GW) of wind turbine generators and more than 200 million kilowatts (200GW) of wind power gearbox globally.  At the same time, it also provides domestic and foreign customers with generator, gearbox, shaft and shaft bearing as integrated wind turbine drive train. It has global production, operation and maintenance services and technical center. In China, we have delivered more than 5 million kilowatts (5GW) of high-quality gearboxes and a large number of reliable direct-drive stator units(segment) to the offshore wind market.

HybridDrive technology has broad development space

Q: The continuous upsizing of wind turbine poses great challenges to core components. What technical route will Winergy choose?

A :At present, various drive technologies have their individual advantages in different application scenarios. We believe that HybridDrive technology, which combines the advantages of high-speed gear drive technology and permanent magnet direct drive technology, will have a broad space for development in large megawatt wind turbine and offshore wind turbine.  After nearly ten years of basic research and development and application verification, HybridDrive technology with its high reliability, high efficiency and compact characteristics, has won the favor of more and more manufacturers and users at home and abroad.  In 2016, we successfully developed the world's largest 8MW HybridDrive system at that time. Now we are delivering 10MW HybridDrive gearbox in batches, and 15MW HybridDrive drive train is also about to start delivering.  It is estimated that the global market share of HybridDrive technology is expected to increase from about current 6% to more than 40% in the next 5 to 7 years.

Localization requires a deeper understanding of the market and the initiative to adapt to the market

Q: What adjustments must foreign companies make as they adapt to the needs of the Chinese market to bring better experience and higher value to customers?

Both domestic and foreign enterprises need to consider how to comply with market demand and serve users well.  At present, the most urgent demand of China's wind power market is to quickly reduce costs, ensure product reliability and bring added value to users.  Local customers in China have very high requirements for timeliness of product development. For this reason, Winergy has been adjusting its strategy since 2010. Winergy Tianjin continues to expand the team of Chinese engineers, production capacity and facility investment continue to increase. In the after-sales service, we are equipped with quick response, professional technical team, to provide users with targeted problem solutions. We have realized 24 hours standby service & arrival on site within 24 hours, customers are very satisfied with our service speed.  As a service partner of the original factory Service, Winergy also trains customers to become skillful "experts" in product maintenance skills.  At the same time, we further signed long-term service agreements with customers, through a comprehensive product database and professional data analysis to provide professional optimized maintenance solutions, customized testing solutions and gearbox/generator health status and failure prediction, to help reduce operating costs.  The quality control of "German standard" and the response speed of "China Standard" to a large extent meet the needs of Chinese customers for new product development, cost control of batch products and after-sales maintenance, so that customers can enjoy "high cost-performance" service. In short, in the face of localization requirements, we must deeply understand the market and take the initiative to adapt to the market.  At the same time, the best practices we have learned in the Chinese market, such as the ideal cost structure, cost reduction or response speed, can be promoted to global locations through the global management system established by the company to realize the continuous improvement of the company's business.

Q :What experiences can domestic and foreign enterprises learn from each other in international cooperation projects?

A :Only in an open, sharing, competitive and cooperative business environment can enterprises achieve healthy and sustainable growth. For foreign enterprises, recruitment sources neither means school talent recruiting & training or public recruitment.  Its global management system really has trained a lot of talent, but in recent years two-way talent overflows and communication with local enterprises also accelerated the transverse flow of knowledge and talent, many domestic enterprises gradually proceed towards internationalization, introduce and set up advanced management system, improve the level of technology, improve quality management system and grow into a multinational enterprise according to the requirements of the international market. No matter in the past and in the future, China's economic development has benefited from globalization and opening-up policies. With 14 production plants and 15 assembly and after-sales service centers around the world, Flender has a lot of international experience. It can take advantage of its global advantages to help Chinese enterprises serve domestic and foreign customers in business cooperation and cultivate international talents. Some of our customers are already engaged in harmonized discussions with both domestic and foreign teams in their daily business.  Through mutual cooperation and learning, the product development processes, management tools and even business reports of domestic and foreign companies are increasingly similar. We firmly believe that Winergy has deeply integrated into the local economy and can support local customers to grow up to the world's advanced technology level, to achieve a more competitive price, to support local enterprises to develop into a global leader in a healthy competitive environment.