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China's Wind Power Sector Set for Rapid Development after Year of Stagnancy

China's wind power sector, after stagnating for nearly a year, is expected to experience rapid development as local governments launch favorable policies.

Among the positive moves, the first batch of projects adding 3 GW of capacity in the second phase of the Jiuquan Wind Power Base recently received approval from the National Development and Reform Commission. In addition, Shandong province, another major wind power base in China, announced that it has set an installed wind power capacity target of more than 8 GW by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015). 

Moreover, the National Energy Administration added two groups of wind power projects to the list of projects entitled to receive renewable energy tariff surcharge subsidies; the first project started to receive the subsidy in July and the other followed suit at the end of September. As the government doubled surcharges on renewable energy sales to 0.008 yuan (approx. US$0.0013) per kWh, the tariff surcharge subsidies are expected to exceed 20 billion yuan (approx. US$3.2 billion) by the end of this year, according to industry analysts. 

Despite the stagnation, during the period, the country’s wind power sector continued its effort to redevelop. By the end of June, China had 52.6 GW in wind generation capacity connected to the grid, making the country the world’s largest wind power market, according to the State Electricity Regulatory Commission. This year’s on-grid wind power capacity under the State Grid Corporation, the country’s largest utility company covering 88% of China’s land mass, reached 50.3 GW. Growth in the on-grid wind power capacity has averaged 87 percent annually for the last six years. That capacity is expected to reach 100 GW in the next three years and 200 GW by 2020, according to its 12th Five-Year Plan.

In terms of the offshore wind power sector, China had made a relatively late start. As of the end of 2011, only Sinovel's 3-MW SL 3000 offshore wind turbine had achieved batch installation. Offshore wind turbine projects from other wind power equipment enterprises are still in the stage of research or a preliminary pilot phase. However, the Shanghai Donghai Bridge offshore wind power demonstration project marks China’s first foray into the offshore wind arena. It is also the first offshore wind power project outside of Europe. Designed and built independently by China, the facility consists of 34 3MW wind turbines with a total installed capacity of 102 MW.

These efforts reaffirm China’s supportive attitude towards the wind power sector and are expected to drive a new round of investment, according to industry analysts.

Lead image: Wind turbine via Shutterstock

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