Wind power surpasses Nuclear in China

by John Brian Shannon

Wind power has surpassed nuclear power to become China’s third-largest energy source.

In 2007, due to the political leadership of then-President Hu Jintao and then-Premier Wen Jaibao of China, renewable energy began a dramatic surge which continues to this day — one that by all accounts is expected to continue in that rapidly growing, and energy-ravenous country. A fortuitous convergence of German wind turbine technology, combined with the ability to manufacture them in China, ushered-in sudden lower prices for wind energy projects in the country. The resultant boom in wind turbine installations continues to this day.

Wind power [in China] exhibited an annual growth rate of more than 100 per cent from 2005 to 2009. With new installations of 13.8 GW coming on line in 2009, China led the world in added capacity, and is second in terms of installed capacity, after the U.S.  – UNEP Green Economy Success Stories Renewable Energy in China

Although wind installations in the country slowed in 2012 due to market forces, (compared to their breakneck 2011 pace) the rate of wind turbine installations are again expected to increase to record levels.

He Dexin, Chairman of the China Wind Energy Association said; [The] country’s development of wind power has slowed down, with 14 gigawatts of newly installed capacity from wind turbines in 2012, down from 20.66 gigawatts in 2011. — People’s Daily Online

But based on current projects under construction, China will be operating more than 100,000 megawatts (100 GW) of grid-connected wind capacity by 2015. The Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association (CREIA) says China will be operating 200,000 megawatts (200 GW) of wind power by 2020.

Image courtesy: IAEA (republished by Earth Policy Institute)

China has astronomical wind power potential, with total wind energy resources far outstripping electrical consumption in the country.

Image courtesy: EIA (republished by Earth Policy Institute)

Exponential growth for wind power is in China’s energy future as they ramp-up wind capacity from 2% of the total electrical energy mix in 2012, towards the Chinese government’s goal of supplying 16% of the country’s electrical energy requirements with renewable sources of all kinds, by 2020. Wind will form a large part of China’s renewable energy portfolio — as it is the natural choice for the country due to the steady onshore and offshore winds in thousands of suitable locations.

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