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Wind power in China

With its large land mass and long coastline, China has exceptional wind resources:[1] it is estimated China has about 2,380 gigawatts (GW) of exploitable capacity on land and 200 GW on the sea.[2] At the end of 2012, there were 76 GW of electricity generating capacity installed in China, more than the total nameplate capacity of China's nuclear power stations,[3] and over the year 115,000 gigawatt-hours of wind electricity had been provided to the grid.[4] In 2011, China's plan was to have 100 GW of grid-connected wind power capacity by the end of 2015 and to generate 190 terawatt-hours of wind power annually.[5]

China has identified wind power as a key growth component of the country's economy;[6] researchers from Harvard and Tsinghua University have found that China could meet all of their electricity demands from wind power through 2030.[7] However, in practice, the use of wind energy in China has not always kept up with the remarkable construction of wind power capacity in the country.[8]

By the end of 2008, at least 15 Chinese companies were commercially producing wind turbines and several dozen more were producing components.[9] Turbine sizes of 1.5 MW to 3 MW became common. Leading wind power companies in China were Goldwind, Dongfang Electric, and Sinovel[10] along with most major foreign wind turbine manufacturers.[11] China also increased production of small-scale wind turbines to about 80,000 turbines in 2008. Through all these developments, the Chinese wind industry appeared unaffected by the global financial crisis, according to industry observers.[10]

In 2010, China became the largest wind energy provider worldwide, with the installed wind power capacity reaching 41.8 GW at the end of 2010, but about a quarter of this was not connected to the grid;[12] by the end of 2012, 76 GW were installed of which 15 GW were not connected to the grid.[4] According to the Global Wind Energy Council, the development of wind energy in China, in terms of scale and rhythm, is absolutely unparalleled in the world. The National People's Congress permanent committee passed a law that requires the Chinese energy companies to purchase all the electricity produced by the renewable energy sector.[13][needs update]

As part of the environmental goals included in China’s 12th Five Year Plan (2011–2015) targets have been set for non-fossil energy to account for 11.4% of the total energy consumption, and for CO2 discharge per unit of GDP to reduce by 17%.


The largest domestic wind turbine manufacturer in China is Goldwind (金风科技股份有限公司) from Xinjiang province. Established in 1998, Goldwind aggressively developed new technology and expanded its market share, though this then decreased from 35% in 2006 to 19% in 2012.[14][15] The next-largest are Guodian United Power Technology Company (a subsidiary of China Guodian Corporation) with 13% of 2012 installations, and Sinovel with 10%.[4]

The China Longyuan Electric Power Group Corp., another subsidiary of China Guodian Corporation, was an early pioneer in wind farm operation; at one point it operated 40% of the wind farms in China.[16]

Chinese developers unveiled the world’s first permanent Maglev wind turbine at the Wind Power Asia Exhibition 2006 held June 28 in Beijing. The Zhongke Hengyuan Energy Technology company invested CN¥400 million in building the base for the maglev wind turbine generators, in which construction began in November 2007. Zhongke Hengyuan expects a yearly revenue of CN¥1.6 billion from the generators.

Wind power in the PRC
2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Capacity (MW)[17] 1,260 2,599 5,912 12,200 16,000 31,100 62,700 75,000 91,424 114,763
Production (GWh)[18] 1,927 3,675 5,710 14,800 26,900 44,622[4] 74,100 103,000[19] 134,900 153,400

According to reports from the 2007 China (Shanghai) International Wind Energy Exhibition held on April 10, 2007 at the Shanghai New International Exhibition Center, by 2010, 5% of Shanghai’s energy needs will be generated from wind power. Shanghai’s first domestically produced wind farm will locate in Lingang New Town; the 7 MW wind farm will begin generating power in early 2008 and the power generated from this wind farm will be connected to the Huadong Eastern China Power Grid. Over the past several years new wind farms have been built in Shanghai, including the Nanhui Wind Farm, the Qinjian Bay Wind Farm and the Chongming Dongtan (Eastern Beaches) Wind Farm. Together these three wind farms have 18 wind turbines with a total of 24.4 MW.

In 2006 the Shanghai Power Company purchased 64.485 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of green energy (primarily from wind farms), yet the amount of renewable energy which was subscribed by customers from Shanghai Power Company was only 23% of that total. In 2006 there were just 6,482 households in Shanghai that subscribed to renewable energy in part because the cost of wind power is 0.53 Yuan/kWh higher than power produced from coal plants; in 2007 total output of wind farms in Shanghai will total 100 GWh, which is sufficient to power 120,000 households. Though there were 22 entities that purchased renewable energy in Shanghai, though with the exception of 1/3 of that total being state owned enterprises, the remainder was foreign invested enterprises. Shanghai’s city government did not purchase any renewable energy. Of the top ten power customers in Shanghai, only Bao Steel purchased renewable energy; in 2006 Bao Steel entered into an agreement to purchase 1.2 GWh over three years.[20]

The China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), aiming to diversify from its core oil and gas business, will be seeking international companies interested in cooperating with them to develop offshore wind farms, said CNNOOC president Fu Chengyu at a conference in Hainan Province on April 22, 2007.[21]

The nearest wind farm to China's capital is Guanting, about 90 minutes drive from the city centre near the Badaling section of the Great Wall. Although it is small — 47 wind turbines, it is set to grow to 100 turbines by next year.[22]

Offshore Wind Farm

As of May 2012, China has two operational offshore wind farms.[23] Construction of Donghai Bridge Wind Farm, the first offshore wind farm in China started in April 2009, close to Donghai Bridge, and commissioned in 2010 to provide electricity to the 2010 Shanghai Expo. The wind farm consists of 34 Sinovel 3 MW wind turbines at a cost of US$ 102 million.[1][24][25] The next is the 150 MW Longyuan Rudong Intertidal Wind Farm costing 500 million ¥, operational in 2012.[26][27][28]

Unfortunately, the development of offshore wind energy does not come as fast as expected. By the end of 2012, China had only installed 389.6MW offshore wind capacity, still far from the target goal of 5GW by the end of 2015.[29] China's ambitious targets of 5GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2015 and 30GW by 2020 would eclipse capacity in other countries. In May 2014 current capacity of offshore wind power in China was 565 MW.[30]

File:Small wind turbines in Minhang (Shanghai), China.jpg
Small wind turbines and solar power panels on lamp posts in Minhang District, Shanghai

Future wind farms

The Gansu Wind Farm Project under construction in western Gansu province is one of six national wind power megaprojects approved by the Chinese government. It is expected to grow to 20,000 MW by 2020, at an estimated cost of 120 billion Chinese yuan ($17.5 billion). In 2008, construction began on a 750 kV AC power line to carry electricity from the wind farm.[31]

When complete, the complex of wind farms at Gansu may become the world's largest collective wind farm.[32]

Comparison to other countries

According to The Economist in 2013 America gets 40 % more energy from the same capacity of wind power. One of the reasons is that the Chinese wind power is not efficiently connected in the power grid.[33]

Stability and cost

Transmission capacity of the grid hasn't kept up with the growth of China's wind farms. According to 2009 data from the China Power Union, only 72% (8.94 GW) of China’s total wind power capacity was connected to the grid;[34] by the end of 2012 this had increased, but only to 80.2%[4]

In addition, China's increasing electrical power consumption means increasing coal use as well, to provide power when the wind isn't available. "China will need to add a substantial amount of coal-fired power capacity by 2020 in line with its expanding economy, and the idea is to bring some of the capacity earlier than necessary in order to facilitate the wind-power transmission," according to Shi Pengfei, vice president of the Chinese Wind Power Association.[35] Shi is also concerned about the high cost of wind power, which makes the industry dependent on the government's willingness to subsidize renewable power. "It isn't that wind power is showing signs of over-heating. It has already overheated."[36]

See also

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  2. ^ Wind provides 1.5% of China's electricity Wind Power Monthly, 5 December 2011
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  16. ^ "Wind Energy Businesses in China". Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  17. ^ "Wind Electricity Installed Capacity". International Energy Statistics. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  18. ^ "Wind Electricity Net Generation". International Energy Statistics. EIA. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  19. ^ ""Annual Statistics of China Power Industry 2012"". China Electric Council. 
  20. ^ "Operation of quoting and bidding system in Shanghai power generation market" (PDF). 2003-09-12. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  21. ^ "Datang wins first offshore wind farm". 2006-12-30. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  22. ^ "Greenpeace China visits Guanting". Greenpeace. 2003-03-17. Retrieved 2010-01-31. 
  23. ^ Wu Qi. China's first offshore programme "at an end" Windpower Monthly, 30 May 2012. Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
  24. ^ Xinhuanet news
  25. ^ Donghai Bridge (China) offshore wind farm 4C . Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
  26. ^ China's largest offshore project now online
  27. ^ Xinhuanet: Pilot project paves way for China's offshore wind power boom
  28. ^ Longyuan Rudong Intertidal (China) offshore wind farm 4C . Retrieved: 7 June 2012.
  29. ^ Windpower Monthly. China unable to archive 5GW offshore wind goal by 2015.
  30. ^ "Detailed appraisal of the offshore wind industry in China". The Carbon Trust. May 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  31. ^ Peter Fairley. China's Potent Wind Potential Technology Review, September 14, 2009.
  32. ^ Watts, Jonathan & Huang, Cecily. Winds Of Change Blow Through China As Spending On Renewable Energy Soars, The Guardian, March 19, 2012, revised on March 20, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
  33. ^ The east is grey The Economist August 10 2013
  34. ^ Xina Xie; Michael Economides (July 30, 2009). "Great Leap Forward for China’s Wind Energy". Energy Tribune. Retrieved 2009-08-01. 
  35. ^ Jing Yang (September 28, 2009). "China's Wind Farms Come With a Catch: Coal Plants". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  36. ^ Lu Zhenhua (July 31, 2009). "Wind power growth in China's deserts ignored financial risks". 21st Century Business Herald. Retrieved 2010-05-22.  (Reprinted in The Guardian, May 14, 2010.)

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