Thursday, 28 February 2013

China's wind energy industry spirals higher
4 Feb 2013

China installed more than a third of the world's new wind turbines in 2012 and is on course to beat the government's 2015 target of 100 GWs of generation capacity by more than a year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) data.

Wind energy in China now accounts for 5.3% of the country's generating capacity and supplies about 2% of its electricity, placing it behind only coal and hydroelectric power. While new installations slowed from 2011's record levels, China's 15.9GW of new wind capacity exceeded the 15.5GW of new hydroelectric power and dwarfed the 1.2GW of solar and 700 MWs of nuclear capacity added last year.

"This year however, project approvals have sped up and we forecast a modest recovery in both financing activity and construction in 2013", Demi Zhu, China wind analyst at BNEF, said. "The fact that China wind overtook nuclear as a generation source even in its most challenging year of recent times is a testament to the massive scale and momentum of the industry in this country".

China's adoption of renewable energy has surprised many, with some Australian commentators projecting wind and solar to contribute only 0.3% of China's electricity supply by 2020. According to preliminary BNEF research, some 11% of total electricity generation by 2020 will come from non-hydroelectric renewable sources, said Jun Ying, head of China research.

At about 2% of current electricity supply, though, wind power is "far from being sufficient to ease China's current severe air pollution issue in any noticeable way", Mr Ying said. Last year, the country added 80GW of capacity-larger than Australia's total-with coal-fired places accounting for about 60% of that increase, BNEF said.

New investment in wind was worth $US27.2 billion ($26.1 billion) in 2012, down 12%. Turbine costs, though, fell 10% as suppliers, mostly home-grown, cut prices.

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