Getting on the grid

Updated: 2013-01-15 15:23

By Jiang Xueqing (China Daily)

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In 2011, China's wind energy sector had 71.5 billion kWh of energy connected to the grid, representing 1.5 percent of the country's total national electricity output, according to the report China Wind Power Outlook 2012, published in September. However, statistics released by the Global Wind Energy Council show that in countries such as Spain, an average 16 percent of electricity demand was met by wind power.

The size of the gap indicates a lack of awareness of the importance and benefits of renewable energy in China, said Ma Jinru, vice-president and secretary of the board of Goldwind Group.

The minimum on-grid price for wind power is 0.51 yuan per kWh, slightly higher than the price for the energy produced by coal, which hit more than 0.4 yuan per kWh in eastern and central China and exceeded 0.5 yuan in some regions.

Although wind power is slightly more expensive, its impact on natural resources and the environment has ramifications far beyond mere cost. The report found that China's wind power sector saved more than 22 million tons of coal in 2011, reducing sulfur dioxide emissions by 360,000 tons and carbon dioxide emissions by about 70 million tons.

Now, the focus has shifted toward long-term rather than short-term interest. The National Energy Administration announced the Renewable Energy Development Plan 2011-15 on Aug 6, aiming for 100 gW of wind power to be connected to the grid by 2015, including 5 gW of offshore wind power.

The plan said renewable energy will emerge as an important source of electricity generation and will account for more than 20 percent of China's total power generation capacity by 2015. Under the 2011-15 plan, the country will install 160 gW of renewable power, including 70 gW of wind power.

During the same period, State Grid Corporation of China will invest more than 500 billion yuan ($80 billion) to extend the ultra-high-voltage electricity transmission networks in North, Central and Eastern China. Meanwhile, prospects for the wind power industry will improve in tandem with a more-effective power grid transmission capacity by the end of 2015.

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