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China Becomes World’s Number 1 in Wind Installation
According to new data released today by Greenpeace and the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA), China installed 16 GW of new wind power capacity in 2010, bringing its total capacity to 41.8 GW – thus making it the largest wind-installation country in the world. However, Greenpeace points out that to translate these installations into massive utilization, serious challenges such as grid access difficulties must be immediately and effectively tackled.
With a total capacity of 41.8 GW, wind power in China has the potential to replace 31.3 million tons of coal, eliminating the emissions of over 90 million tons of carbon dioxide, 33,000 tons of total suspended particulates, over 64,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and almost 60,000 tons of nitrogen oxides.
Wind power’s booming growth has been helped by the Renewable Energy Law in 2005, as well as a series of favorable policies. Since 2005, China’s overall wind installation has doubled every year. In 2009, China surpassed Germany to become the world’s second-largest wind installation country with a capacity of 25.8 GW, behind the US by 10 GW. In 2010, China’s wind power maintained its momentum with a 62% growth in total installation from 2009. At the same time, the US suffered from setbacks in passing climate change legislation and diminished enthusiasm in renewable energy investments. Its 2010 newly installed wind capacity was only 5 GW.
“This is definitely a milestone in the history of China’s clean energy development. China won this round in the global race for a green future, proving that it has the potential to become a world superpower in renewable energy,” said Yang Ailun, head of Greenpeace East Asia’s climate and energy campaign. “However, wind power still accounts for only a tiny fraction of China’s entire energy structure. China must translate its massive installations to massive utilization, which requires the implementation of effective incentive policies and a thorough overhaul of the national grid.”
According to the CREIA, wind power generation in 2010 only reached 50 TW•h, lower than that of the US despite China’s greater installed capacity. Grid-connected capacity lags behind installed capacity by more than 30%, much higher than the 10% gap in advanced countries. All these factors reduce China’s wind power efficiency and effectiveness. On the other hand, with the 11th Five-Year Plan coming to an end, China has met its installation targets for renewable energy sources such as wind and hydro power. However, renewable energy only supplies 9% of the total energy mix, falling short of the critical target of 10% by the end of the 11th Five-Year Plan.
“This shortfall in generation tells us that China still has a long way to go to reach its full potential in wind and other renewable energy,” said Yang Ailun. “Despite a renewable energy policy requiring grid companies to purchase all available electricity generated by wind farms, wind power access to the grid is impeded by an unstable, out-dated grid infrastructure. Other problems include a lack of incentives and penalties for grid companies and slow progress in more wind energy technologies,” Yang said.