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UPDATED: May 3, 2011 NO. 18 MAY 5, 2011
Harvesting the Wind

OUR OWN WIND TURBINES: China's first homegrown 5-megawatt wind turbine is completed by Sinovel Wind Group Co. Ltd. in October 2010 (LU PENG)

From land to offshore

China started developing offshore wind power last year. The 12th Five-Year Plan says China will establish six onshore wind power bases and two offshore wind power bases in the five-year period, with a total installed capacity of more than 70 million kw. In the next five years, the installed capacity of offshore wind power will reach 5 million kw.

According to an assessment on China's wind power resources by the China Meteorological Administration, the volume of onshore wind power resources in China totals 2.6 billion kw. Although without detailed assessment figures, primary analysis shows that China also has 100 million kw of offshore wind power resources.

However, by the end of 2010, China's total installed capacity of wind power was just 44.73 million kw, less than 0.2 percent of the total volume of exploitable wind power. Hence, the Chinese wind power market is one of considerable potential.

From kw to megawatt

With the rapid development of the wind power industry and the constant improvement in technology of wind power equipment manufacturing in recent years, the capacity of individual generators has increased.

In the 1990s, wind turbines produced power in the kilowatt range. Since 2000, generators capable of producing electricity on the megawatt scale have won a greater market share than those capable of kilowatt-level output. With the start of offshore wind power projects, megawatt-level wind power generators are more favored in the market.

High-capacity generators cannot only increase the wind energy conversion efficiency, but also reduce the per-unit construction costs of wind power facilities, hence reducing maintenance cost of wind power equipment and improving competitiveness of wind power.

Considering factors such as the technology level of wind turbine manufacturing, wind resources and power grid operation, the appropriate single generator capacity of major onshore wind power generators is 1.5-3 megawatts, while that of offshore wind power generators is above 5 megawatts. In offshore areas 10 km away from seashore and of water depth greater than 8 meters, single generator capacity could potentially be greater.

China's wind power development has caught worldwide attention, not only because of its No.1-ranked installed capacity, but also its indigenous innovation in equipment manufacturing. In the wind power development sector, China Longyuan Power Group and Huaneng New Energy Industrial Co. are rising to become more influential in the international market. In the wind power equipment manufacturing sector, there are also giants like Sinovel Wind Group Co. Ltd., Goldwind Science and Technology Co. Ltd., Dongfang Turbine Co. Ltd. and Guodian United Power Technology Co. Ltd.

The rise of China's wind power equipment manufacturing is attributed to the country's policy support and the growing wind power market, as well as technological innovation of manufacturers, especially in research and development of high-capacity generators.

Although the problem of scattered and disorderly development of wind power equipment manufacturing has not been completely solved and there are still equipment quality accidents, China's wind power manufacturing industry is becoming more concentrated and supporting industries are stronger.

The wind power industrial chains are becoming complete with stronger core competitiveness and the wind power equipment manufacturing industry is developing in a sound way, which will support sound and sustainable development of the wind power industry under the 12th Five-Year Plan.

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