Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Eye On China: China's Vast Untapped Wind Potential


RenewableEnergyAccess.com reported yesterday that a new report released by the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association (CREIA) and sponsored by Greenpeace and the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) shows that China could at easily double its current wind energy target for 2020 and that the country's vast wind potential could be enough to meet all of its current energy needs.

"The development of renewable energy plays a crucial strategic role in the power supply of China," said Energy Bureau Director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Xu Dingming. "Wind energy growth in China is now on a fast track and globally we believe that wind power will become the primary alternative energy in the future."

According to the CREIA report, entitled 'Wind Force 12 in China', China's current wind energy plan is to reach 20 gigawatts (GW) by 2020 [see recent post on China's renewable energy commitment]. Is a comparison, Germany, the world wind energy leader today, has just under 17 GW of wind power installed.

With just 43 wind power stations, China had an installed capacity of only 760,000 kilowatts by the end of 2004. However, experts within the Chinese industry believe that 40 GW can be delivered within 15 years; rising to ten times this by 2050. This scale of wind power would need 20,000 typical modern wind turbines by 2020 and the investment generated could be worth USD $40 billion, putting China on track to become the world's biggest wind energy market by 2020.

"According to the China Meteorological Administration there is enough viable wind resource in China to power the whole country completely," said Li Junfeng, Director of CREIA and the report's lead author. "The capacity of wind potential in viable windy locations in China could match current total national capacity of all China's existing power stations combined, four times over."

The report was co-sponsored by Greenpeace and the EWEA, and was produced by CREIA. The three groups were inspired by the renewable energy vision laid out in European reports like the original Wind Force 12. Both Greenpeace and EWEA have been involved in consultations on China's first Renewable Energy Law, which comes into force on January 1 and is widely expected to mark the takeoff of the Chinese wind industry [again see recent post].

"Our collective future depends upon us helping China develop wind power and other clean energy technologies faster than 'business as usual'," said Steve Sawyer of Greenpeace. "Climate change and energy security demand it. We will only avoid dangerous climate change if the rich countries get their own energy house in order and reduce emissions dramatically while at the same time assisting not only China, but the whole of the developing world to meet their energy needs sustainably. It's time for the world to support China and put Chinese wind power on an even faster track."

According to RenewableEnergyAccess.com, a welcoming event was staged by Chinese Greenpeace volunteers at Beijing's Capital University of Economics and Business to mark the launch of the report and celebrate the arrival of the Beijing International Renewable Energy Conference. One hundred volunteers lay on the ground to form the shape of a giant Chinese character 'feng' meaning 'wind'. In front of the human wind symbol were banners in English and Chinese calling for 'Clean Energy Now'. The event follows several weeks of campus advocacy calling young people in China to support renewable energy via the multilingual website www.surewind.org.

"This first comprehensive Chinese industry report shows a better path is possible for China's energy future," said Prof. Arthouros Zervos, EWEA President. "Wind power is already delivering the goods for millions of people worldwide; China is rapidly becoming one the world's most important wind energy market, there is major potential here for growth."


Needless to say, China apparently has vast untapped wind potential. If we seriously want to fight global climate change, this is a strong area to leverage. Developed countries in North America and Europe ought to work with China to strongly encourage the development of this vast clean and renewable resource. China is growing at a rapid rate and it's economy will demand significantly more energy. If it doesn't come from renewable sources, it will come from coal (mostly) and to a lesser extent natural gas (if they can secure a large enough supply for import, likely from Russia). We ought to do everything we can to make sure that as much of this increased demand is met by anything but coal, and most preferably clean renewables like wind. This Wind Force 12 in China report demonstrates that the resources are there and that it is possible. Not it only remains to make sure the resource is developed.

Resources:

  • Greenpeace: The answer to China's energy future is blowing in the wind

  • China Daily: Wind energy to serve as major power driver

  • Shanghai Daily: Winds of change energize planning

  • Press Release: China has potential to be world's biggest wind energy market by 2020

  • Wind Force 12 report
    [Note, this is the worldwide Wind Force 12 report published by the EWEA. This is not the China specific report mentioned above. I was unfortunately unable to find the Wind Force 12 in China report anywhere online. If anyone finds it, please post a comment with the link. Cheers...]


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