China’s One Belt, One Road: Implications for Wind Power & Solar Energy

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Overview of the wind power industry in China

Capacity doubled for four years in a row

The construction of wind farms in China began in 1980s and during the following 10 years, the country experienced the initial demonstration and industrialization establishment phases. Following this, wind farm installed capacity grew slowly and steadily. Since 2003, which saw the bidding for the first government wind power concession project, wind farm construction has entered the large-scale and localization stage and as a result installed capacity had increased rapidly. From 2006, installed capacity doubled for four consecutive years, an explosive level of growth.

The rapid development of Chinese wind power in recent years has benefitted from both from the specific plan and the upgrading development assistance from local government. Power companies and manufacturers have therefore developed wind power confidently in China.

Original objectives revised

The rapid development of wind power is forcing China’s original long term objectives to be constantly revised; indeed, China has now become the largest and fastest growing wind power generation market in the world. According to the statistics of the Global Wind Energy Council, the global cumulative installed wind power capacity has increased from 23,900MW at December 31 2001 to 486,749MW at December 31 2016, with annual growth rate at 22.25%. During the same period, the annual growth rate of China’s cumulative installed capacity of wind power was 49.53%, ranking first in the world. In 2016, the new installed wind power capacity of China was 23,328MW, being 42.7% of global new installed capacity, making China the world leader. By the end of 2016, total installed wind power capacity was 168,690MW, being 34.7% of the world’s installed capacity and the highest for any country in the world.

Development of offshore wind power projects in China

As at the end of August 2017, there are 19 offshore wind power projects in China, with a total installed capacity of 4,799.05MW. These projects are located in:

  • 7 provinces in China (Jiangsu, Fujian, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Hebei, Liaoning and Tianjin)
  • 8 in Jiangsu with a total capacity of 2,305.55MW
  • 6 in Fujian with total capacity 1,428.4MW
  • 1 in Zhejiang, Guangdong, Hebei, Liaoning and Tianjin respectively
  • Shanghai Electric (Siemens technology) is 2,232MW
  • Goldwind is 964.15MWÂÂMing Yang Energy is 567MW
  • Envision Energy is 400.8MW
  • China Haizhaung is 110MW

Huge potential resources

China has huge potential offshore wind power resources, especially in the eastern coastal areas around Shanghai. According to the Chinese government’s renewable energy planning, offshore wind power projects will be located in coastal areas of Jiangsu, Shandong, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong.China has huge potential offshore wind power resources, especially in the eastern coastal areas around Shanghai. According to the Chinese government’s renewable energy planning, offshore wind power projects will be located in coastal areas of Jiangsu, Shandong, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong.In 2016, more than 135 offshore wind turbine units were installed in China, with a capacity of nearly 600MW. The development areas of offshore wind power in the future are mainly concentrated in the economic developed eastern coastal areas. According to the Global Wind Energy Council recent report, the research shows that within 5 to 25 meters of water depth in coastal areas, at 50 meters above sea level, the capacity of wind power would be 200GW. The development of offshore wind power will not only meet the electricity demand of the eastern area with a combination of onshore and offshore wind power, but also accelerate the growth of China’s renewable power generation.

Reduced costs

With the investment and development of new technologies, the cost of offshore wind projects is being reduced. The offshore wind developers are facing more competition; according to the Chinese government development plan, the installed capacity of wind power will be 210GW by the end of 2020, including 5GW installed capacity of offshore wind power. As the key part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” national strategy for renewable energy, offshore wind power is an important factor which will promote the transformation of China’s energy industry in these developed coastal regions. In May 2017, the government produced a proposal to speed up the research to develop the equipment and components of 5MW, 6MW offshore wind turbines.

Development of the solar industry in China

In 2016, the annual installed capacity of solar power in China was 34.54GW, with a total installed capacity of 77.42GW. New and total installed capacities are both world leaders, which includes 30.3GW of ground solar farms and 4.24GW of distributed solar farms. The capacity of distributed solar farms has now grown by 200%.In 2016, the annual installed capacity of solar power in China was 34.54GW, with a total installed capacity of 77.42GW. New and total installed capacities are both world leaders, which includes 30.3GW of ground solar farms and 4.24GW of distributed solar farms. The capacity of distributed solar farms has now grown by 200%.As at the end of September 2017, newly installed solar power capacity in China is at about 42GW, having grown by 60%; this includes 15GW of distributed solar farms, representing a growth of more than 300%.

High efficiency, high quality

Under the Chinese government development plan, the Chinese solar industry is being developed with high efficiency and high quality in mind. Some poor quality solar farms will be eliminated; on the other hand, solar industries enterprises will further reduce the cost of solar power by the continuous innovation of technology. PV modules, systems, inverters, and electricity prices were reduced by 90%, 88.3%, 91.5% and 77.5% respectively in last 8 years. During 2016 -2017, the price of components decreased by nearly 21%.

Ray Zhang is Head of Power and Renewable Energy, Willis Towers Watson China


Credits: Power and Renewable Energy Market Review 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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