In 2009, China led the world in newly installed wind-energy devices, reaching a capacity of 13.8 GW (10,129 turbines) – a rate of one new turbine every hour. In terms of overall capacity, China ranks second, at 25.8 GW.
“The rapid wind power growth in China was propelled by both the growing need for energy and the government’s eagerness to develop low-carbon technology,” said Li Junfeng, secretary general of CREIA.
“China’s speed of wind power development is remarkable,” commented Steve Sawyer, secretary general of GWEC. “In 2005, only one Chinese company was among the top 15 manufacturers in the world. Today, there are five.”
The report projects that by 2020, China’s total wind power capacity will reach at least 150GW, possibly up to 230GW, which, if realised, could cut 410 million tons of CO2 emission, or 150 million tons of coal consumption. “This positive projection of 230 GW of wind energy equals 13 times the capacity of the Three Gorges Dam, with the ability to replace power generated from 200 coal fire power plants. However, it is only achievable with the implementation of effective incentive policies and a thorough overhaul of the national grid,” said Yang Ailun, head of the Climate and Energy Team of Greenpeace.
Compared to multinationals, many Chinese companies are young and lack a strong basis for research and development. Despite a renewable energy policy requiring grid companies to purchase all electricity from wind farms, access to wind power for the grid is frequently lagging behind an unstable, out-dated grid infrastructure. There is also the problem of a lack of incentives and penalties for grid companies, and slow progress in more wind energy technologies.
Greenpeace calls for the national government to implement a clear and definitive long-term plan for wind power, including an ambitious development target. Economic incentive policies should involve, and coordinate, all stakeholders, including local governments, power companies, grid companies, and domestic and foreign manufacturers. Critically, the national grid needs a massive overhaul, while stable pricing for wind power should be guaranteed in order to encourage wind energy developers.
“The advantages of wind have never been more apparent – reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced pollution, sustainable development, poverty alleviation in historically rural regions, etc.” said Yang. “China is at a crossroads. It can choose between the dirty, dangerous world of coal and fossil fuels, or the new, clean future promised by wind. The answer is obvious.”