Overview of Chinese Wind Power Industry
- Description: Chinese enterprises have mastered advanced off-grid wind turbine generator technology through technology transfer from foreign companies.
By the end of 2004, China produced 200,000 off-grid wind turbine generators, ranking it number one in the world.
Chinese enterprises have mastered advanced off-grid wind turbine generator technology through technology transfer from foreign companies.
There are two kinds of utilization which must be discussed in any review of wind power developments: off-grid and in-grid. Off-grid utilization is used primarily as an independent power operation system, often in remote regions. The power generation capacity of a single off-grid generator ranges from 100 watts to 10 kilowatts. In-grid power is integrated within conventional power grids, providing the most economical utilization of wind power. The maximum power generation of a single in-grid wind turbine in 2006 is five megawatts.
China’s abundant inland and offshore wind energy resources provide potential for large-capacity, in-grid wind farms. By the end of 2005, China had built 59 wind farms with 1,854 wind turbine generators and a 1,266 megawatt in-grid wind power installed capacity, ranking it number ten globally.
Today, wind power in China is developing rapidly and receives particularly strong government support. The new Renewable Energy Law and its detailed incentive policies reflect the Chinese government’s intention to build up this industry. By 2020, China plans to have 30 gigawatts of wind power.
European companies dominate China’s wind power equipment market. Among U.S. companies, only GE Wind Power is active in China. In 2005, GE Wind Power occupied 3% of the in-grid wind turbine market in China.
According to the China Academy of Meteorological Sciences, the country possesses a total 235 gigawatts of practical onshore wind power potential that can be utilized at 10 meters above the ground. Annual potential production from wind power could reach 632.5 gigawatts if the annual, full-load operation reaches 2,000-2,500 hours. A detailed survey is needed, however, for economically utilizable wind power resources. The potential for offshore wind power is even greater, estimated at 750 gigawatts. Offshore wind speed is higher and more stable than onshore wind, and offshore wind farm sites are closer to the major electricity load centers in eastern China. Areas rich in wind power resources are mainly concentrated in two areas: northern China’s grasslands and Gobi desert, stretching from Inner Mongolia, Gansu, and Xinjiang provinces; and in the east coast from Shangdong and Liaoning and the Southeast Coast in Fujian and Guangdong provinces.
In 1986, China built its first wind farm in Rongcheng, Shandong Province. From 1996 to 1999, in-grid wind power developed very quickly, entering a localization stage. By the end of 2004, there were 43 wind farms with 1291 wind turbines in China, with 764 megawatts of installed capacity. Liaoning, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Guangdong experienced the fastest wind power development, representing 60% of the installed power generating capacity of national wind power. Currently, Xinjiang’s Dabancheng is the largest wind farm in China, with 100 megawatts of installed power generating capacity. Most generators range from 500 kilowatts to 1 megawatt, accounting for 84% of China’s wind turbine generators.
To support the development of wind power technology and growth of the in-grid wind power market, the Chinese government has recently pushed hard on renewables, and it implemented a series of projects and also stipulated a series of economic incentive policies:
– Ride the Wind Program
Windmills, while still subsidized, are
economically viable in high-wind areas
(photo: Nordex 2.5 MW units)
To import technology from foreign companies and to establish a high-quality Chinese wind turbine generator sector, the former State Development and Planning Commission (SDPC) initiated the “Ride the Wind Program” in 1996. This initiative led to two joint ventures, NORDEX (Germany) and MADE (Spain). These JVs effectively introduced 600kilowatts wind turbine generator manufacturing technology of 600 kilowatts into China.
– National Debt Wind Power Program
To encourage the development of domestic wind power equipment manufacturing, the former State Economic & Trade Commission (SETC) implemented the “National Debt Wind Power Program.” This program required the purchase of qualified, locally-made wind power components for new generation projects. China’s government provided bank loans with subsidized interest to wind farm owners of as compensation for the risk of using locally-made wind turbine generators. These loans funded construction of demonstration project wind farms with a total installed capacity of 8megawatts. This program has been completed.
– Wind Power Concession Project
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) initiated the “Wind Power Concession Project” in 2004 with a 20-year operational period. This program aims to reduce the in-grid wind power tariff by building large capacity wind farms and achieving economies of scale. Each of the wind farms built in this program must reach a 100 megawatts capacity. By 2006, NDRC had approved 5 wind farms, in Jiangsu, Guangdong, Inner Mongolia, and Jilin Province.