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China On Track for Rapid Wind Power Development

According to the recently released 12th Five-Year Plan from the Chinese government, the wind power sector in China is primed to continue its rapid development.

The country has rich wind resources, ranking third in the world behind Russia and the U.S. Technically exploitable onshore wind resources total 300 GW, and offshore resources are as high as 700 GW, according to the latest wind resource assessment. To date, however, only a small fraction of those resources have been developed.

The government cites the great importance that China attaches to energy conservation as another driving force for the continuous development of the wind power industry during the country’s 12th Five-Year Plan as well as important subsidies that are in place to support wind power development. 

In 2009, National Development and Reform Commission of China set a tariff for on-shore wind projects based on location and the availability of wind resources and construction conditions. This pricing mechanism has been conducive to the healthy development of the industry as it avoids vicious price competition.

Western China, well known as a key area for development of traditional energies in the country, has achieved rapid development in new energies as well. In November 2010, the National Energy Administration and the provincial government of Gansu celebrated the completion of the first phase of China’s first 1 GW wind power facility in the region, which is slated to have a final installed capacity of 1.27 GW by 2015.

Also in November, a host of wind power projects in Hami, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, took further steps towards their development, gaining necessary preliminary environmental permits to go forward with construction. Together these proposed projects would have a total capacity of 2 GW. Ten companies, including China Datang Corporation Renewable Power, China Huadian Corporation and China Power Investment Corporation, are investors in the projects, which totals RMB 4.3 billion (approx. US$655 million), according to a local governmental official. Installed wind power capacity in the region was just 10 MW in 2009, but is expected to hit more than 1 GW by 2014. 

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