The Wind Dragon: a Chinese tale of wind power

by Fabrizio Bozzato

Because of the hectic pace of China’s economic and social development, Chinese energy demand will continue to grow rapidly in next 40 years. Beijing appears determined to pursue a low-carbon development strategy, and wind energy is going to be one of the main resources for achieving China’s low carbon goals.

According to figures released in March 2012 by the China Wind Energy Association, last year China consolidated its position as the global wind power leader in both newly and cumulative installed capacities, deploying an impressive 17.6 gigawatts of wind turbines. Notably, by the end of 2011, the added production capability took the national cumulative installed wind power electrical generation to 62.4 gigawatts, up 39.4 percent from the previous year. In December 2011, Longyuan Power, China’s largest wind power developer, connected 99.3 megawatts of wind turbines to the grid in a pilot intertidal wind farm in the Eastern province of Jiangsu. Meanwhile, deep inland, the desert province of Gansu is becoming the frontline of the country’s efforts toward a greener energy mix by massively investing in renewable energy, which includes the erection of wind turbines at the rate of more than one per hour.

As impressive as these figures and developments are, so far wind power generation accounts only for 1.5 percent of national power generation. However, China has a grand vision for wind energy. Such a long-term “big plan” is outlined into China’s Wind Power Development Roadmap 2050, a key-document recently issued by the Energy Research Institute of National Development and Reform Commission. The Roadmap foresees Chinese wind power capacity reaching 200 GW by 2020, 400 GW by 2030 and 1 000 GW by 2050, making up 17 percent of the country’s electricity consumption.

Assuming that the available technology will constantly improve and momentous resources will be allocated for scaling wind power up, the targets set by the document do not seem unrealistically ambitious. Nonetheless, achieving the supply curves indicated in the Roadmap is going to be a challenge even for a giant like China.

According to the Roadmap, if the marginal tariff for wind power is set at CNY 0.55/ kWh (excluding the long distance transmission cost), 700 GW could be installed around seven strategic areas before 2020. Until 2021, China will focus on onshore wind development and offshore wind power will remain at the start-up and organizational stages. From 2021 to 2030, land and offshore wind power will be synergically developed, and far offshore wind power will be launched. After 2030, China will continue to expand its land and offshore wind power capability on a massive scale. To meet such targets, the total investment in wind energy will be CNY 12,000 billion.

Advanced technologies will be widely employed, including highly efficient and cost-effective storage technologies and smart grids. Research and Development (R&D) are going to be the wings of the Chinese “Wind Dragon”. R&D will specifically focus on assessing wind resources (including forecasting), advanced wind turbines, wind farm construction and operation, etc. With time, investment costs per unit of wind power will gradually fall; the cost of wind power is expected to be the same as or close to the cost of coal power by 2020.

If the Roadmap will be followed and fulfilled, the environmental and social benefits for China will be considerable. Annual CO2 emission mitigation could be around 1.5 billion tonnes in 2050, and an estimated 720,000 jobs could be created. While many analysts keep a tunnel vision on China’s seemingly inexhaustible voracious appetite for the world’s hydrocarbon resources, a breezy green revolution appears to be on the way in the Celestial Kingdom.

Fabrizio Bozzato is a PhD candidate at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies – Tamkang University, Taiwan. 

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U.S.-China Ten Year Framework for Energy and Environment Cooperation

Washington, DC – The United States and the People’s Republic of China held the 8th Joint Working Group Meeting of the U.S.-China Ten Year Framework (TYF) for Energy and Environment Cooperation April 9-10 in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, and David Sandalow, Assistant Secretary of Energy for Policy and International Affairs, co-chaired the meetings on behalf of the United States. Vice Chairman Zhang Xiaoqiang from the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission led the Chinese delegation. The two sides assessed ongoing collaboration and exchanged views on emerging issues, including low-carbon sustainable communities

via U.S.-China Ten Year Framework for Energy and Environment Cooperation.

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WSU News Center – New clean energy systems research center opens

PULLMAN, Wash. – With a long history and national reputation in power engineering and collaborative, interdisciplinary research, Washington State University has established the Energy Systems Innovation Center ESIC. It will take a leading role in addressing one of the greatest technological challenges of the 21st century – demand for clean and reliable energy. 

via WSU News Center – New clean energy systems research center opens.

Avista Utilities, Alstom Grid, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Wuhan University (China) are the first group of industry/university/national laboratory partners with the ESIC through collaboration agreements.

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Solar Panels Reflect Bright Future for Rural Papua New Guinea – IPS

Although this article is not explicitly about China, it provides a very good window into how off grid solar is a potential leap frog technology for 1.4 billion people living without electricity. This has strong relevance for rural China and other regions wanting to develop without the capacity for grid based power.

GOROKA, Apr 2, 2012 (IPS) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), which has no national power grid but large river systems and abundant sunshine, renewable energy has tremendous potential to transform remote rural lives with clean and sustainable electricity.

via Solar Panels Reflect Bright Future for Rural Papua New Guinea – IPS

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China: New programme in Salween-Mekong basin targets women’s adaptation to climate change – News – Professional Resources –

A great example of trans-national collaboration on climate adaptation involving the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), based in Kathmandu, Nepal, and Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences… supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

Kunming, China – A new collaborative programme on climate change adaptation in the Mekong-Salween river basin of Yunnan Province, China was launched in Kunming, China on 27-28 March 2012. The programme will aim to fill knowledge gaps and, on the basis of the scientific evidence gathered, to make concrete proposals for enhancing people’s adaptation to climate change through policy and practice. The programme will have a particular focus on women’s adaptation, as women and men often suffer the impacts of climate change in different ways, and women tend to be less represented in policy and decision making.

via China: New programme in Salween-Mekong basin targets women’s adaptation to climate change – News – Professional Resources –

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China, Indonesia to Boost Bilateral Ties

China and Indonesia signed agreements on a range of issues on Friday, a sign analysts said shows the wish of both nations to push forward ties in strategically important Southeast Asia.

via China, Indonesia to Boost Bilateral Ties.

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SEIA Calls on Governments and Industry Groups to Pursue Global Dialogue on Solar Trade and Competitiveness

Amid the competitive dynamics of global trade, the solar industry is working to develop meta-frameworks across national boundaries. Here is one example of the rise of a meta-network.

Over the past year, SEIA has held a series of dialogues with several leading national solar trade associations regarding potential collaboration on and resolution of trade issues before they result in action before trade remedy bodies. SEIA is also collaborating with the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA) and other Asia-Pacific based trade associations on the development of a formal Solar Dialogue within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

via SEIA Calls on Governments and Industry Groups to Pursue Global Dialogue on Solar Trade and Competitiveness.

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