The Chinese Navy (People’s Liberation Army Navy) has installed new turbo generators on its warships. The decision to install the turbo generators comes in the midst of tensions with Quadrilateral Security Dialogue Members (QUAD) India, Japan, Australia and the United States.
The China State Shipbuilding Corporation’s (CSSC) 704 Research Institute announced recently that its 20-megawatt power generators had entered service, the Global Times reported. That’s enough electricity to light up a city of 15,000.
American Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, on the other hand, are only capable of a maximum power output of 7.5 megawatts using three 2.5-megawatt generators, making such a platform unfeasible for the railgun.
According to sources, the new turbo generators will power railguns and electromagnetic catapults in PLAN warships. The turbogenerators quadruple the power generation capacity of existing power plants.
Li Jie, a naval expert in Beijing, says that the more powerful generators “will mean all these high-energy-consuming systems can operate.”
China has been testing naval uses of a railgun since at least 2017, a weapon which uses electromagnets to accelerate a metal slug to incredible speeds. Rather than relying on explosives to destroy the target, the sheer force of the impact produces a huge release of energy, which is why railguns are called “kinetic energy weapons.”
The Global Times noted the turbo generators make it possible to use advanced integrated electric propulsion (IEP) technology, which basically turns ships into giant, hybrid gas-electric vehicles. The American Zumwalt uses such a design, as do the British Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier and the cruise-liner RMS Queen Mary II.
Experts at EurAsian Times believe that the decision to deploy the new turbo generators comes at the time Beijing is facing the QUAD in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. The QUAD united for the first time when they conducted naval drills in both Pacific and the Indian Ocean to send a covert message to China.
China’s claims to the South China Sea have suffered a set back in recent times with its largest trading partner -Australia labelling Beijing’s claim over the strategic waterway as ‘illegal’.