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Print Edition> Business
UPDATED: April 29, 2011 NO. 18 MAY 5, 2011
Harvesting the Wind

OFFSHORE WIND POWER: An offshore wind turbine works in Qidong, Jiangsu Province (XU CONGJUN)

During the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) period, China's wind power industry experienced rapid growth. The 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) marks the beginning of a period of sound and sustainable development for the industry. This is the conclusion drawn by Shi Lishan, Deputy Director of the Department of New and Renewable Energy of the National Energy Administration, who is also considered one of the most powerful advocates for the Chinese wind power industry.

In an interview with Economic Information Daily, Shi answered several questions on hot topics such as how China's wind power industry will develop in the future. Shi also held that the Chinese wind power market has great potential, and with the start of offshore wind power development, the Chinese wind power industry will enter an era of more robust and efficient wind turbine technology. Edited excerpts of his answers follow:

According to figures from Chinese Wind Energy Association, 12,904 wind turbine generators were installed in China in 2010, with a total capacity of 18.93 million kilowatts (kw), surging 73.3 percent over the previous year. China's total installed capacity of wind power had reached 44.73 million kw by the end of 2010, surpassing the United States and ranking first in the world.

From speed to quality

China's wind power industry is not full of hot air, as it conforms to the trends of low carbon consumption, energy conservation, emission reduction and industrial restructuring in accordance with Chinese Government policies and it's a strategic emerging industry supported by the government. To be exact, it is the wind power equipment manufacturing industry that is a little bit overheated.

The development of wind power won't be slowed down in the near future, although the government pledges to give priority to the development of hydropower and optimize the development of thermal power. With fast development and more intensified market competition in the wind power equipment manufacturing industry, the cost of wind power has been decreasing markedly and the competitiveness of wind power is increasing. In some places of abundant wind resources, the cost of wind power has been almost the same as thermal power.

China's energy consumption mainly relies on coal, but it has imposed great pressure on the environment and resources. Particularly, there have been serious problems of transportation of coal and emissions of carbon dioxide. The country is facing arduous task of adjusting the structure of energy consumption.

At present, nuclear power development is more restrained and the influence of the Fukushima accident will not be soon forgotten. Therefore, developing and utilizing new energies are crucial to adjusting energy consumption structure.

Generally, wind power is the most mature technology in environment-friendly energy power generation, which has been used in more than 70 countries and regions. Some European countries have set wind power as one of the major ways of generating electricity. Hence, China's wind power industry will enter a period of sound and sustainable development during the 12th Five-Year Plan period.

Meanwhile, the 12th Five-Year Plan says wind power will be effectively developed. This indicates that the government has decided to solve the problem of grid connection in the development of wind power. The plan also says grid construction will be accelerated to solve this problem. The State Grid Corp. of China said it will accelerate construction of ultra-high voltage grids and strong smart grids in order to accept more wind power.

In addition, the scattered and disorderly development of the wind power equipment manufacturing industry has been improving in recent years. According to an industrial analysis report in 2010, the aggregate market share of the three major wind turbine manufacturers—Sinovel Wind Group Co. Ltd., Goldwind Science and Technology Co. Ltd. and Dongfang Turbine Co. Ltd.—reached 56.8 percent, 1.5 percentage points higher than the previous year. This indicates that Chinese wind power equipment manufacturing industry is more concentrated and enterprises are more competitive. All these will lay a solid foundation for the sustainable and sound development of the wind power industry in the 12th Five-Year Plan.

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