Wind Energy Development in China

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CHINA WIND ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

17/12/2012

In last three decades, with the rapid development of economy, China has become the largest energy consumer in 2009. Coal is the dominant energy resource in China, accounting to around 70% of the Total Energy Consumption in 2009 (IEA 2012), which is mainly used to electricity generation. In 2012, the total expected electricity generation is up to 5.14 trillion KWh, with approximate 9.5% growth rate compared with last year (Xinhua 2012). The total electricity shortage in this year is expected to be between 30 million and 40 million KW due to coal price increasing. It is no doubt that unbalanced and emission-intensive energy mixed structure has threatened to security of energy supply and caused severe environmental contamination. In order to solve increasing demand of electricity, enforce security of supply and reduce huge greenhouse gas emission, the development of renewable energy seems to be an ideal solution.

This essay will focus on wind energy development in China and consists of four sections: section 2 will introduce china’s wind resources; section 3 will focus on the current status of wind power development in China; section 4 will explore challenges in front of wind energy industry; the last section will make a conclusion and propose some advice for China central government.

Wind resources in China China possesses one of the world’s richest wind resources. As shown in Figure 1, about 75% onshore wind resources are distributed mainly in three northern regions (northeast, north and northwest), especially in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. China Meteorological Administration diversified wind power density into three grades 2, 3, 4 at height of 50m, 70m, and 100m (Table 1). According to the data from China Meteorological Administration, if the wind power density is grade 3 at 70m height above ground, the potentially exploitable wind resources will be more than 2TW. The total commercially exploitable onshore wind resources are around 1000 GW.

The offshore wind resources are concentrated in the areas of Taiwan Strait and south-eastern coastal line. The wind power density grade is 6 and above. Due to relatively mature near offshore wind technology, China offshore wind resources are only assessed and analysed at the depth of 5m to 50m. The total potential exploitable and commercially exploitable wind energy resources are around 500GW and 200 GW respectively (Li 2012).

The total commercially exploitable onshore and offshore wind resources are expected to be 1200GW which accounts to around 31% of the total power capacity (IEA & ERI 2012). The current cumulative wind installed capacity only takes up 5% of the total potential wind energy capacity. Therefore, wind energy still has huge potential development room and incentives in China.

Current development of wind power in China Wind energy has been developed for more than 2 decades, but until 2001 the accumulative installed capacity was only 0.38GW (Figure 2). While, since 2005 wind energy has developed with a dramatically cumulative average growth rate, 92% (Li 2012). In 2011, the total accumulative installed capacity reached 62.36GW and newly installed capacity was 17.63GW. China has become the largest wind turbine market, accounting for 44% of the new installed capacity in the world. In in the same year, the total electricity consumption was 4.69 trillion KWh. Wind energy generated 70.6TWh, accounting to 1.51% in the total electricity consumption. According to the China wind energy development roadmap 2050, before 2020, China’s wind development will focus on on-shore resources rather than offshore.

An interesting question is that what the incentive of China wind energy rapid development is. The obvious answer is policies incentives. Wind energy development started from electricity market reform in 2002. Pre-existing state power corporation was broken up into five independent power generation companies and two...
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