By Guest blogger Angelika Pullen, Global Wind Energy Council
Many developments in China can only be described in superlatives, and wind power is no exception. When I first visited Beijing to attend the ministerial Beijing Renewable Energy Conference (BIREC) in 2005, the city looked very different, and so did the wind energy industry. Back then, China only had around 1,000 MW of installed wind capacity, and when the government used the conference to announce its target of reaching 30 GW of wind capacity by 2020, this seemed nearly insanely ambitious.
And yet, a mere five years later, China has already achieved this target, 10 years early. Not only that – industry experts predict that at least 40 GW worth of wind turbines will be operating in China by the end of this year; possibly more. Given the current difficult situation in the US, there is even a distinct possibility that the world’s largest economy would have to cede its place as leading wind power country to China at the end of December this year. If that doesn’t happen, it almost certainly will in 2011.
What explains the dramatic growth of wind power in China? Genuine political commitment is certainly the deciding factor, something the US has been lacking to date. In 2005, the Chinese government passed the Renewable Energy law, which attracted both foreign and domestic investors to flock into the market. Nearly all large European, US and Indian wind turbine manufacturers established themselves in China to secure a piece of the (very large) cake. But China now also counts more than 30 domestic wind turbine manufacturers, three of which are now among the world’s leading suppliers, as well as an entire supply chain serving the industry.
Further proof of China’s desire to aggressively tap into the still nascent, and potentially highly lucrative, offshore wind power sector as part of its plan to embrace a green energy revolution was revealed earlier this week in a story by ClimateWire.
The story, published by Environment & Energy Publishing and distributed by The New York Times, also pointed out just how much further China is ahead of the US in developing its offshore wind industry.
“What the U.S. doesn’t realise,” the story quoted Peggy Liu, founder and chairwoman of the Joint U.S.-China Collaboration on Clean Energy, as saying, is that China “is going from manufacturing hub to the clean-tech laboratory of the world.”
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then fire up your laptop and tap into this Google Earth video of wind farms from above. Amongst the wind farms highlighted, satellite footage takes the viewer from Egypt to Australia, from India to China, from Denmark to Spain, from the UK to Canada to the US.
So, click on the video below and enjoy your virtual flight.
The European wind power industry should take quick notice of two different yet related pieces of information traveling around cyberspace in the past week as both deal with China’s stunningly rapid growth.
A Bloomberg article noted an Oxford University study indicates European companies could benefit from collaboration with Chinese manufacturers seeking to improve wind park efficiency as the nation continues its meteoric expansion of the emissions-free sector.
“Wind park siting, or picking the best site for the turbine to gain the most wind energy, and grid development are among opportunities for collaboration between European and Chinese companies, Benito Mueller, director of Oxford University’s Institute for Energy Studies, and colleagues wrote in a study,” the Bloomberg article noted.