China Curtails Less Wind Energy in 2014

Latest data from China’s National Energy Administration shows that 8.85 GW of new wind power capacity was installed in the first nine months of 2014, bringing its total capacity to nearly 85 GW, a year-on-year increase of 22 percent. Accounting for 6.6 percent of China’s total installed power capacity, wind exceeds nuclear power in installed capacity and electricity production, has become the third major power source following coal and hydro.

By the end of September, wind power connected to the grid totaled 106 billion kWh, rising by 7.6 percent year-on-year. During the none-month January-September period, wind energy curtailment in the country amounted to 8.6 billion kWh, a decrease of 28.3 percent year-on-year. The average wind power curtailment rate had dropped to 7.5 percent by the end of September, a fall of 3.36 percentage points on a yearly basis.

Despite the decline in wind power curtailment, 28 provinces, cities and regions across China saw a decrease in wind power utilization hours, led by Xinjiang semi-autonomous region, Chongqing municipality and Shanxi province, all located in the Western part of China. The regions posted a year-on-year decrease of 503 hours, 4,213 hours and 402 hours, respectively. Jiangsu and Yunnan provinces saw an increase in utilization hours. In the first nine months of this year, the country’s average wind power utilization time reached 1,336 hours, a decline of 196 hours year-on-year.

Zhou Yiyi, a wind analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, explained that the number of wind power utilization hours depends on the availability of wind resources. A windy year occurs every four years in China, and the average wind speeds this year have been significantly lower than last year’s.

Ren Haoning, an energy researcher at China’s leading industry research institution CIConsulting, said that despite a reduction in both wind power curtailment and rate, the curtailment issue has not been resolved and the country needs better and more detailed planning for wind power projects. 

Ren added that a boom in the number of new wind power projects requires a matching rise in operational efficiency and the wind power utilization hours define the rate of return on wind power projects, something which the grid companies need to constantly monitor.

A wind farm industry insider said that he foresees onshore electricity prices dropping next year, with the warning that the construction of wind power projects should start before the prices go down. However, Wind power projects are built much faster than grid infrastructure.

S&P Consulting analyst Zhang Jiao said that the construction of a typical wind power project is completed within one year, while the supporting grid facilities for cross-district transmission takes about two years. He sees this construction period imbalance as the fundamental cause of wind power curtailment.

Ren added that grid companies are concerned that large and unstable wind power projects may affect the safety and stability of the grid and that it is a global necessity to ensure the stability of grid-connected wind power projects. 

Lead image: Wind turbines via Shutterstock

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Nanjing Shanglong Communications Liu Yuanyuan is Director of Operations and Co-Founder of Nanjing Shanglong Communications. Liu Yuanyuan previously held the position of office manager at the London Financial Times' China translation and editorial bureau in Nanjing overseeing 33 translators, editors and IT support personnel. Ms. Liu brought her many years experience of delivering, under deadline, more than 200 English-language news summaries of articles selected from Chinese-language newspapers and newswires daily as well as supervising the timely completion of 500,000+ word English-to-Chinese translation and localization projects to her role as co-founder and general manager at Shanglong. Ms. Liu joined Shanglong in 2002. In 2006, she added China Business News Service to the product suite – the service provides a continuous flow of well-researched and documented news articles to trade publishers and industry-specific websites looking to supplement their content with the latest news from China in their sector. She manages Shanglong's staff of translators, editors, desktop publishing specialists and support staff, selected from the top universities across China and well versed in the art of translation and in the technology of DTP. Ms. Liu graduated from the People’s Liberation Army Institute of International Relations - China’s elite military academy responsible for the training of the country’s foreign language specialists.

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