Project Development, Storage, Wind Power

China’s Wind Power Sector Shifting Development Focus to Southern China

Average utilization hours for wind power facilities in China has been declining for several years in a row, according to an analysis conducted by China ZhongDian Media, a business consulting firm. Yet, the indicator reversed itself last year, increasing by 17 hours in 2016, to 1,742 hours, as a result of policies launched by local governments across the country to promote consumption of non-fossil fuels.

Nevertheless, the rate of wind power facilities remaining idle due to the lack of sufficient energy storage facilities, which remains a serious issue across the northern tier of the country. The rate of idling in Gansu province, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and Jilin province reached 43 percent, 38 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Consumption needs are greater in the eastern and southern parts of the country, areas that also have better storage facilities.

This status is expected to drive the sector to refocus development into these regions, with on-grid capacity in Yunan, Hebei and Jiangsu provinces reaching 3,250 MW, 1,660 MW and 149 MW, respectively, the highest levels across the country.

ZhongDian Media’s analysis pointed to the likelihood that the development of wind power projects would gradually shift to these new regions, while development in the northwest and northeast would slow down. Despite being less windy than the northern part of the country, the overall resource characteristics of the new areas make them better prospects for development in 2017.

The analysis shows that in 2016, newly-added on-grid capacity in northwestern China decreased as a whole, with the capacity in Gansu province, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region being reduced by 2,200 MW, 2,840 MW and 7,570 MW; to 250 MW, 1,200 MW and 850 MW, respectively. Capacity in Shaanxi and Qinghai provinces stood at 800 MW and 220 MW in 2016, respectively, representing modest increases from 2015. In 2017, average utilization hours in the northwestern region are expected to continue their decease, while on-grid capacity in Gansu, Ningxia and Xinjiang may see further declines.

In the northeastern region, newly-added on-grid capacity in Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces increased by 560 MW, 610 MW and 580 MW, respectively, in 2016.

In northern China, average utilization hours reversed the downward trend in 2015, except in Inner Mongolia and Tianjin. The indicator in Hebei and Shanxi provinces increased by 269 and 239 hours respectively, while, in Inner Mongolia, it decreased by 85 hours. Year-on-year growth in newly-added on-grid capacity slowed in Hebei, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia last year.

In 2016, average utilization hours increased in eastern China, with only Fujian province experiencing a decrease. At the end of 2016, overall on-grid capacity in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui and Fujian provinces only reached 5,610 MW, 1,190 MW, 1,770 MW and 2,140 MW, respectively. In 2017, wind power developers are expected to start construction on several new facilities across the region and to connect them to the grid. The strong demand for power in region augurs huge room for growth.

Average utilization hours in central China, also a region with a lot of demand for power, is much higher than the national average. Except for Chongqing municipality and Sichuan province, the entire region witnessed growth.