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China's Wind Power Sector Expected To See Tremendous Growth

The nuclear accident triggered by the devastating earthquake in Japan has created new market opportunities for China's wind power sector. According to a statistical report released by the Chinese Wind Energy Association, mainland China added 18.9 GW of new wind power capacity in 2010, a year-over-year increase of 73.3 percent, bringing the country's installed wind power capacity up to 44.7 GW and catapulting the country to first place globally for the first time, ahead of the U.S., in terms of installed wind power capacity.

At the end of 2010, the country had approximately 29.6 GW of wind turbines connected to the grid. For the past five years, grid-connected wind power installed capacity has nearly doubled every year. The country is on track to install more than 90 GW of wind power capacity by 2015 and 150 GW by 2020.

Compared with other new energies including nuclear power, wind power is safer, emits less carbon and is more environmentally friendly, say analysts. And given the recent events in Japan, wind power is less costly than nuclear power. Shi Lishan, deputy director of the department of new and renewable sources for the National Energy Board of China, revealed that the country is now focusing mainly on the development of onshore wind power, while, at the same time, it started construction of several large-scale offshore wind power plants last year.

Creating an Export Market

As set forth in the government’s five-year plan, from 2012 to 2016 the country expects to build and hopefully export 5-GW offshore wind turbines. An analyst at Donghai Securities expects China to increase exports of wind turbines over the next several years, driving the rapid growth of the country’s wind power sector.

For several years, China has been encouraging domestic wind power firms to expand their presence into overseas markets. Sinovel Wind, the country’s first specialized high-tech enterprise that has independently developed, designed, manufactured and marketed large-scale onshore and offshore wind turbines, has established divisions in the U.S., Spain, Canada, Australia and Brazil.

Harnessing the Wind Domestically

The northern, eastern and central parts of the country are expected to become major markets for wind power generation over the next several years, according to sources. The high winds that generally blow across the northern tier of the country has led to most wind power farm projects under planning and construction being located there, with a high number of projects in Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Gansu, and Xinjiang.

Data shows that China’s wind turbines operated for 2,097 hours on average in 2010. Wind power constituted 21.1 percent of local power consumption in the eastern part of Inner Mongolia, 8.7 percent in the western part of Inner Mongolia, 5.6 percent in Jilin Province, and 4.6 percent in Heilongjiang Province.

Shi recently noted that the National Energy Board is accelerating its efforts to develop strict and efficient operation and management policies for the country’s wind power firms, in order to assure the healthy development of the sector. Government policies require China’s wind power firms to improve their operation and management capabilities, while wind power equipment manufacturers are required to enhance the reactive power compensation ability of their wind power devices. 

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