Wind Force 12 in China: Summary of Highlights

Press release - 2005-11-07
Wind Force 12 in China is a groundbreaking new report; the first comprehensive study of the state of wind power in China to be produced by the Chinese renewable energy industry itself. With support from the European Wind Energy Association and Greenpeace, the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association; representing the foremost authorities on the renewables industry and policy in China; has laid out this assessment of the prospects and direction for wind power development in China.

The striking conclusions are:

  • Even allowing for the practicality of finding and using sites; the technical potential (that which can be practically accessed by current technology) on land and at sea is estimated to be over 2000 GW; four times the current total generating capacity of all China's power stations.
  • China's current target for wind development is 20GW by 2020; the Chinese industry experts expect that double this will actually be achieved; so that by 2020 there will be 40GW of wind capacity in China; by 2030 there will be 100GW; and by 2050 there will be 400 GW. This 2050 total of 400 GW is about the same amount as the current total generating capacity of all the power stations in the UK, Germany, India and Brazil combined.

The report emphasizes the benefits of wind power to the environment, economy and energy security in China. In particular highlighting that this scale of wind development would:

  • Provide large-scale new capacity fast to reduce economically harmful energy shortages now;
  • Become a mainstay in power supply to meet China's long-term growth in energy demand;
  • Make wind power more significant than nuclear power in China within 15 years;
  • Protect China from fluctuating fuel prices;
  • Reduce China's heavy reliance on energy imports with this secure indigenous power supply;
  • Significantly reduce carbon emissions; showing a climate solution deployed and proven;
  • Relieve China's acute air quality problems by reducing coal burning;
  • Create a strong domestic wind manufacturing industry in China, creating new skilled jobs;
  • Put China on track to become the world's leader in wind energy.

A capacity of 40GW of wind power can generate 80,000 GWh of electricity per year, which is enough to meet the annual consumption of Beijing and Hong Kong combined; or to meet the needs of around 60 million Chinese homes based on average household consumption in Beijing.

Meanwhile, the use of such a capacity of wind power can lead to an annual reduction of 48 million tons of CO2; about the same as that produced by the whole of Norway or Switzerland in one year; or around double that produced annually by Singapore.

What the report says

Overall conclusion: If the Chinese government succeeds in implementing its planned incentive policies, then 40GW by 2020, 100GW by 2030 and 400GW by 2050 could be achieved. Wind energy offers the potential of pollution-free electricity in large volume; addressing both climate change and energy demand for economic growth. Wind power can produce the required generating capacity fast. Wind power will become more significant than nuclear power in China by 2020.

Policy preparation: The Renewable Energy Law has been promulgated and detailed implementation regulations are under discussion. The details will be announced before January 1st, 2006; the date on which the Renewable Energy Law will be effective. The mechanisms will enable implementation of the law through measures including price guarantee, grid access guarantee and renewable energy fund.

Industry development: The Chinese government has shown commitment to developing a strong domestic industry for turbine manufacture, with machines over 1MW capacity already indigenously developed. The strength of the domestic industry is crucial to long-term success and price reduction for wind energy and can be secured through R&D and technology transfer on the foundation of a strong domestic market. The report concludes that support for the localization of wind turbine manufacturing should continue such that, by 2010, China will become a globally important wind turbine manufacturing base.

Technology research and development & human resources development: There are huge benefits to R&D programmes that sit alongside market promotion. The report concludes that wind resource assessment and the manufacture of larger Chinese turbines are priorities. Training centres, technology R&D centres, design and development centres, testing centres and accreditation centres are all required to develop technology as well as skilled technicians. Meanwhile component manufacturing, system integration, and the development of a complete industrial chain, all require training and skills development for Chinese manufacturers, developers and operation service providers; from industry workers to senior technicians.

Resource investigation: Continued and systematic data collection is necessary and further calculations of provincial and national wind resource resources required. Exploitable reserves and economically exploitable reserves must be further evaluated and provincial and national wind resource distribution maps and wind zone classification maps are needed for conducting macro wind farm site selection.

Costs: The report compares the cost of wind power with conventional power and shows that wind can already be competitive in the right locations. Further cost reductions are possible; including through the economies of this scale in this vision of development; and by 2020 it is expected that wind will be cheaper than coal power in China. Accounting for 'external costs' of energy technologies the report shows that wind power is among the cheapest to the overall economy today in any case.

Greenpeace analysis: Greenpeace concludes that the report fully supports China's ambition for wind energy development and suggests that there is even room to be much bolder. Greenpeace's experience in Europe is that the wind industry beats targets; predictions for future growth are almost always too modest. The prospect for wind development in China is both enormous in scale and extremely positive. The international community must support China's efforts with investment and technology transfer.