Wind power in China could reach 1000GW of capacity by 2050

» By | Published 31 Oct 2011

China is continuing to put increased emphasis on its expanding domestic wind power sector to help provide ever-increasing amounts of emissions-free electricity.

The latest evidence of China’s unrelenting faith in wind power comes in a report that predicts the rapidly-developing Asian nation could have 1,000 GW of installed wind power capacity by 2050.

To put that figure into perspective, it’s worth noting that the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has reported that China was the world’s national wind power leader last year with cumulative installed capacity of just over 42 GW.

The report — China Wind Energy Development Roadmap 2050 — was released last week by the National Development and Reform Commission’s Energy Research Institute (NDRC-ERI) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

According to an IEA press release, the English language summary of the report notes that the share of wind power in Chinese electricity production could rise to 17% by mid-century from just 1% today.

The press release notes that reaching 1,000 GW of wind power by the middle of the century would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 gigatonnes annually in 2050, or roughly equivalent to the combined CO2 emissions of Germany, France and Italy in 2009.

“By 2050, wind power could be one of the five largest power sources, alongside coal, hydro, solar and nuclear power,” the press release quoted Wang Zhongying, Deputy Director-General of ERI, as saying. “It will play a vital role in China’s energy supply and in our efforts to address climate change.”

The report was followed days later by a story in the Financial Times that said China is bracing for a slowdown of 20% in wind turbine installations this year because of tightening government regulation and bottlenecks on the electricity grid. The FT story quoted one unnamed European turbine maker executive saying the Chinese wind turbine market was facing a “bloodbath.”

The IEA press release said it would cost an estimated €200 billion to 2050 to achieve China’s wind power target, but that there are tremendous opportunities for wind developers and investors in the world’s most populated nation.

2050: 50% wind power in Europe, 17% in China

As a region, GWEC has noted that Europe was the global leader with cumulative installed capacity of 86 GW at the end of 2010, Asia was second with 58.6 GW and North America was third with 44.1 GW.

The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) expects a European cumulative wind capacity of 230 GW by 2020 and 400 GW by 2030.

EWEA also believes that wind could produce up to 50% of the EU’s electricity in 2050. In addition, with the EU planning to reduce emissions by 80-95% by 2050, the EU will have to fully de-carbonize its power sector which would mean that wind power would supply very much more than 17% of electricity in Europe.