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China Increases Target for Wind Power Capacity to 1,000 GW by 2050

The National Energy Administration of China has set a series of development goals for the country's renewable energy sector during the 12th Five-year Development Plan, which shows that by 2015 the country's wind power capacity will reach 100 GW, based on the current capacity of 40 GW.

According to another recently-issued roadmap drawn up for the country’s wind power industry, China’s wind power capacity will reach 200 GW, 400 GW and 1,000 GW by 2020, 2030 and 2050, respectively, making wind one of the five major sources of electricity across the country. Based on this target, by 2050 China’s investment in the wind power sector is expected to reach RMB 12 trillion (approx. US$1.9 trillion), opening the door to many opportunities for its wind power equipment manufacturers. 

“By 2050, wind power projects are expected to address 17 percent of the power demand in China,” said Wang Zhongying, director, research fellow at the Center for Renewable Energy Development of the Energy Research Institute, a part of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The roadmap also predicts that around 2020, the costs of onshore wind power will be equal to those of coal power.

In particular, the roadmap suggests the following timeline:

  • Before 2020, give priority to the development of onshore wind power projects, supplemented by near-shore offshore demonstration projects;
  • From 2021 to 2030, lay equal stress on the development of onshore and near-shore wind power projects, supplemented by far-offshore demonstration projects; and
  • From 2031 to 2050, realize synchronous development of all three types of projects.

At present, grid connection and rapid need for generated energy are the two major factors restraining the development of China’s wind power industry. “Given the situation, it is urgent for us to work out and implement classified and inter-provincial programs for timely ingesting of wind power,” said Wang Zhongying.

Opportunities for wind power equipment manufacturers

Chinese wind power equipment manufacturers generally saw decreases in earnings this year, mainly due to drops in product prices and reduced demand from downstream industries. Xinjiang Goldwind Science and Technology’s net profits for the first three quarters declined nearly 60 percent year on year. In order to take full advantage of the opportunities brought about by the roadmap, Chinese wind power equipment manufacturers led by Sinovel Wind Group, Xinjiang Goldwind Science and Technology and Xiangtan Electric Manufacturing Co. (XEMC) are set to shift their focus to research and development of high-capacity units.

On October 20, XEMC’s 5-MW direct-drive offshore wind turbines were connected to the grid in the Netherlands, while on October 23, Sinovel Wind Group completed its installation of 6-MW double-fed wind turbines. Huayi Electric recently also announced that it plans to issue additional shares to finance the development of its 6-MW wind turbines.

However, the prospects for high-capacity wind power units are subject to a variety of uncertainties, due to their narrow applications, out-of-date support facilities and unproven quality, noted industry professionals.

According to the 12th Five-year Development Plan, the installed capacity of offshore wind turbines is expected reach the vicinity of 5,000 MW over the next five years, accounting for only 5 percent of energy production. The space for growth remains limited.

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