Wind turbine in Jiangsu Province, China
Hot on the heels of the news that Chinese wind power produced more electricity than nuclear last year, comes the announcement that China’s wind power production grew more than coal power production for the first time ever in 2012, according to statistics from the China Energy Council.
Thermal power using mostly coal increased by only about 0.3% in China last year, the statistics noted, an addition of roughly 12 terawatt hours (TWh) more electricity.
“In contrast, wind power production expanded by about 26 TWh,” according to a blog posted on the Energy Collective written recently about the statistics by Li Shuo, a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace East Asia.
“This rapid expansion brings the total amount of wind power production in China to 100 TWh, surpassing China’s 98 TWh of nuclear power.”
Despite the on-going global economic slowdown, growth predictions about China’s wind power sector are optimistic. On Monday, the deputy director general of China’s National Energy Administration acknowledged that wind energy is the third largest source of electricity in the world’s most populous nation after thermal and hydro power.
“Wind power has become the third-largest electric power in China,” Liu Qi said. “There is no electric power to substitute the position of wind power as number three, following thermal power and hydropower.”
A press release noted that China’s current energy policy says that wind power in the nation will be developed efficiently because it “is the non-hydro renewable energy with the biggest possibility of large-scale development and market utilisation at the moment.”
Siemens new 75m turbine. Copyright Siemens
Two new technological developments in the global wind power industry have been garnering media interest recently as the emissions-free generating sector continues to increase its world-wide installed capacity year after year after year.
Siemens announced earlier in August that it had built, at 75 metres, the world’s largest rotor blade for wind turbines.
By way of comparison, and to understand just how long the new Siemens blade is, those who attended EWEA’s Annual Event in Copenhagen in April 2012 may remember that massive LM Wind Power 73.5-metre blade displayed outside the Bella Center.
Wind power will be the second biggest contributor to global renewable electricity generation by 2017, according to a ground-breaking report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Despite economic uncertainties in many countries, global power generation from renewable sources including wind will increase by more than 40% to almost 6,400 terawatt hours (TWh) – roughly the equivalent of one-and-a-half times current electricity production in the US, predicts the Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2012.
This is the first time the IEA has devoted a medium-term report to renewable power sources and the agency says this is “a recognition of the dynamic and increasing role of renewable energy in the global power mix”. It forecasts that renewable electricity generation will expand by 1,840 TWh between 2011 and 2017, almost 60% above the 1 160 TWh growth registered between 2005 and 2011.
The Chinese economy is growing at a phenomenal rate. In Beijing, from the shiny, high-rise office buildings to slick underground trains, China’s economic expansion is clear. And the Chinese wind power sector has surged too, with over 62 GW now installed, making it the world’s number one.
But growth rates stabilised a while ago, and cracks began to appear. In 2010-11 the shine on Chinese wind power started to tarnish as it emerged that accidents were happening, grid connection rates were poor and quantity had clearly been given the upper hand over quality.