China to Assess Wind Energy Resources More Scientifically

China’s Meteorological Administration set up a center on June 14 to assess the country’s vast wind and solar energy resources through advanced methods, Xinhua News Agency reported. This will be of particular benefit to China’s robust wind power industry, providing developers with more accurate and integrated data.

The center will monitor wind energy resources in priority exploration areas and provide meteorological and technical support for wind farm site selection and wind measurement. It will conduct in-depth research on the impacts of extreme weather events, such as typhoons, thunderstorms, and sandstorms, on wind farm operations. Center experts will also analyze the resulting greenhouse gas emissions reductions from wind energy development. Backed by the Meteorological Administration’s proven strengths in personnel, expertise, and infrastructure, the center hopes to introduce more advanced technology through international cooperation. For example, China’s first wind energy resource assessment modeling system, a joint effort between the Administration and the Meteorological Service of Canada, is now up and running after more than a year of adjustments. The system enables scientists to map the distribution of wind resources between heights of 30 and 120 meters, much higher than the previous limitation of 10 meters. Wind resources are abundant in China. An early assessment estimated the technical on-shore wind potential in China at 250 gigawatts (GW), while more recently the off-shore wind potential has been estimated at 750 GW, which would nearly double China’s total energy generation capacity. The country has also experienced a rapid expansion in wind power development in recent years. The cumulative installed capacity reached 1,266 megawatts (MW) in 2005, an increase of 65.7 percent above the 2004 capacity of 764 MW. The sector will likely see even faster growth in the near future as the government aims to meet its ambitious targets of 4 GW of installed capacity by 2010 and 20 GW by 2020. The new assessment center will aid in this effort by providing much needed data and services. China Watch columns, a joint initiative of the Worldwatch Institute and Beijing-based Global Environmental Institute, report on energy, agriculture, population, water, health, and the environment in China — with an emphasis on analysis relevant to policy makers, the business community, and non-governmental organizations.
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