Monday, 11 February 2013

Wind overtakes nuclear to become China's 3rd largest energy source
29 Jan 2013

According to data from the China Wind Energy Association (CWEA), wind power capacity has now surpassed nuclear power to become the third largest source of electricity in China, after coal, and large-scale hydroelectric-electric plants. In 2012 wind power generation totalled 100.4 billion kW hours, an increase of 0.5% from the years before, and enough to send it past nuclear power generation.

Wind energy capacity has grown rapidly over the years, fuelled by ambitious renewable energy targets, and strong government support of wind power manufacturers. By the end of 2012 China had 60.83GW of installed capacity, and targets aim to see a total of 100GW by the end of 2015.

Due to turbine overcapacity, growing international trade protection, grid connection challenges, and wastage of wind power generation, installed capacity volumes have fallen in recent years. 20.66GW was installed in 2011, but that fell to 14GW in 2012; although the CWEA does expect that figure to grow again this year to 18GW.

Curtailment is also another major barrier in the wind power sector, whereby the electricity generated at wind farms is not purchased by grid companies because it is more expensive than other electricity from other sources. CWEA states that in 2012 around 20 billion kW of wind generated electricity was wasted due to curtailment.

Meng Xian'gan, the secretary general of the China Renewable Energy Society, explained that "grid companies lack economic incentives to take in more wind power, as government-dictated on-grid wholesale prices of wind power are higher than those of thermal power". The only way to overcome this barrier is for a government-led market reform aimed at addressing the problem.