China Has World's Fastest Growing Wind Power Capacity

Posted by: Frederik Balfour on April 28, 2009

China’s environmental record gets plenty of bad press—-toxic lakes, contaminated rivers, cities enshrouded in a permanent haze of smog—-so here is some good news for a change: the Global Wind Energy Council says that China will add more wind power capacity this year than any other country, including the U.S. It could add 10 gigawatts [10,000 megawatts] of additional capacity this year, while the U.S. will only add 8.5 gigawatts.
That’s a lot of juice, considering that one megawatt can power about 1,000 households in the west, probably a lot more in China, where household power consumption is still quite modest.

This is indeed an important milestone for China’s renewable energy business, especially considering the Middle Kingdom is currently so dependent on coal. About 70% of its power is thermal generated, which is the main reason why China is now the largest source of carbon emissions in the world. But the country saw wind power capacity double last year to 12 GW while the U.S. had about 25 GW of capacity.

Much of China’s new capacity will come from home-grown makers of wind turbines who are gaining market share on industry stalwarts such as Vestas of Denmark, the world’s largest wind turbine maker, and General Electric. Both companies have manufacturing plants in China but their local competitors, Xinjiang Goldwind, Sinovel Wind and Dong Fang Electric are expanding rapidly.

One challenge for China, however, is that most of its wind energy capacity is located a long way from the source of demand. When I visited a wind farm called Huitengxile in Inner Mongolia, we had to travel two and half hours by car out of the capital, Hohhot, and then make the final sojourn on horseback. An equally windy part of China is the northwest province of Xinjiang, and hence a great place for wind turbines. But it’s about 4000 kilometers away from China’s east coast, where most of the energy demand is.

Still, power companies are bullish on China. China Light & Power, which produces virtually all its power supplied to Hong Kong by burning coal, has finally found green religion. Today after its annual shareholders meeting the company told reporters China was ripe with opportunities for investing in wind power.

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Reader Comments

chenleilili

April 29, 2009 05:32 AM

To some extent,China gets its great achievement in economy at the expense of the evionrment.China has to pay the price for the failure of evironmental protection.but on the other hand,the develpoed countries move their factories to China for the lower cost in eviornmental protection or avoiding the tough requirements of their own government in evironmental pretection.Should they be shamed of there irresponsibility and shamful performance in destroying China's eviornment?

Interconnect

April 29, 2009 02:44 PM

Great opportunity for Xinjiang Goldwind, Sinovel Wind, Dong Feng Electric for technology transfer to countries with regional PTA, FTA as Pakistan will have access to China market for its renewable energy. eMail: interconnect.partner@gmail.com

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BusinessWeek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies. Eye on Asia’s bloggers include Asia regional editor Bruce Einhorn, Tokyo reporter Ian Rowley, Korea bureau chief Moon Ihlwan, Asia News Editor and China Bureau Chief. Dexter Roberts, and Hong Kong-based Asia correspondent Frederik Balfour.

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