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China: 1 TW of wind by 2050

China could have 1 TW of wind power by 2050 with wind supplying 17% of electricity production, compared to today's 1%, according to the National Development and Reform Commission’s Energy Research Institute (NDRC ERI) with support from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

By Kari Williamson

“By 2050, wind power could be one of the five largest power sources, alongside coal, hydro, solar and nuclear power. It will play a vital role in China’s energy supply and in our efforts to address climate change,” says Wang Zhongying, Deputy Director-General of ERI.

Achieving the goal of 1 TW of wind energy would require an estimated US$200 billion of investment to 2050, representing tremendous opportunities for wind developers and investors. Figures exclude investment in the transmission network and costs associated with the variability of output from wind farms.

”This roadmap provides solid ground for the wind deployment effort, with detailed technical, economic and policy milestones that will help wind deliver on its potential,” adds Bo Diczfalusy, Director of the Sustainable Energy Policy and Technology at the IEA.

China became the world’s largest wind market in 2010, surpassing the United States with nearly 19 GW installed in that year, according to Chinese Wind Energy Association.

Looking ahead, ERI’s roadmap sees capacity of 200 GW of wind power by 2020 and 400 GW by 2030. The most recent resource assessments suggest a potential of more than 2.3 TW, equivalent to two and a half times China’s total current installed generation capacity from all energy sources.

The roadmap charts a mix of onshore and offshore wind capacity, with onshore deployment in the North and Northwest dominating up to 2020. After 2020, offshore wind turbines in the East will need to increase in number, while a optimised power system and strengthened grid will enable the transmission of electricity to the principal load centres in the east from increasing capacity in the Northwest.

The system integration of these relatively high shares of wind power will remain one of the major challenges to this effort.

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