China: Nation's wind power capacity set
to triple in two years
Jun 9, 2008 - IPS/GIN
China plans to triple its wind power capacity over the
next two years, according to a senior policy development
The plan is in line with the central government's more
general goal of increasing the share of renewable energy
in the country's total energy mix and thus reducing the
country's greenhouse gas emissions.
China's total wind power capacity now stands at 6,000
megawatts, but by end 2008 this will have reached 10,000
megawatts. And by 2010, the central government will have
boosted wind power production to 20,000 megawatts, said
Song Yanqin, deputy director of the research management
and international collaboration division of China's Energy
The institute is part of the Beijing-based National Development
and Report Commission, the agency tasked with implementation
of energy conservation and emissions reduction programs.
"An increase in wind power capacity will help meet growing
local demand and also ensure environmental protection,"
Song said on the sidelines of the Asian Clean Energy Forum,
which was held here last week by the Asian Development Bank
and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
China's rapidly expanding economy has made it a major energy
consumer: Its average annual GDP growth has been surging
at around 10 percent over the past five years.
China depends primarily on coal, an abundant and cheap
indigenous energy resource. In the next 20 years, as China's
economy continues to rise, the Energy Information Administration
forecasts that the demand for coal will grow at an annual
rate of 3.5 percent.
But coal-fired power plants boost carbon emissions that
hasten global warming. The World Bank reports that China
has 20 of the world's 30 most polluted cities, largely due
to high coal use.
Global warming and consequent climate change are taken
seriously by the Chinese government. Already, the melting
of glaciers in Tibet and Xinjiang and increased temperatures
in western China are threatening to reduce the rain-fed
rice yields. China's coastal areas have also suffered from
extreme storm surges in the past few years that have been
attributed to climate change.
"China is seeking a new development path," said Yu Cong,
director of the Energy Research Institute's energy efficiency
center. Yu, who also participated in the Asian Development
Bank forum, added that the Chinese government prefers a
more sustainable economic development model and is striving
to reduce its energy consumption. Development of renewable
energy sources such as wind power is a key measure, he said.
Renewable energy accounts for only a quarter of China's
total installed capacity of over 700,000 megawatts. In 2007,
China consumed 2.65 million tons of coal equivalent, only
7.5 percent of which was renewable. The government hopes
that by 2010 wind, hydro and solar energy will account for
10 percent of total consumption.
Compared to leading wind energy producers and consumers
such as Germany, Spain and the United States, China's installed
capacity is still low. But Song is confident that this will
change over the next few years and that China may even emerge
as the world's biggest wind power producer. "We have the
resources. Our coastlines are longer than Spain," he said.
"Although China still lags many countries in terms of total
wind power installations, its recent growth rates have far
exceeded the world average. An increasingly strong policy
environment and a growing local manufacturing base has contributed
to China's more than doubling of its wind power capacity
in 2006," said Joanna Lewis, senior international fellow
at the U.S.-based Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
In a study released in July 2007, Lewis made a comparative
study of wind power development strategies in China, India
and Spain. She enumerated several programs to encourage
local wind turbine manufacturing and increase the number
of wind farms. These include tax breaks, concessions, competitive
bidding process for wind farm development, promotion of
technology transfer and subsidies on wind energy research.
Such measures will continue to support not only China's
wind power program but also its renewable energy development
plan. Subsidies, tax incentives and more funding for research
can help create a "stable, predictable and sustainable market
demand" for renewable energy, Song said.